The European Parliament adopted a written declaration urging the EU to use the revision process of Directive 86/609/EC as an opportunity to make ending the use of apes and wild-caught monkeys in scientific experiments an urgent priority. They also want to establish a timetable for replacing the use of all primates in scientific experiments with alternatives. As of 6 September 2007, 416 MEPs had signed the written declaration.
In order for a written declaration to be formally adopted by the European Parliament, more than half of its Members have to sign it. The declaration was sponsored by UK MEP John Bowis, French MEP Martine Roure, Swedish MEP Jens Holm, German MEP Rebecca Harms and Slovenian MEP Mojca Drcar Murko.
Co-sponsor John Bowis (EPP-ED, UK) said: "This is great news for everyone who is interested in animal welfare, but also wants to protect human health. Currently around 3,300 primates are used in British laboratories each year. Alternative practices are increasingly being developed and applied, which mean that this number can be reduced with an eventual aim of a complete phase out of testing on primates.
“I welcome efforts to reduce and replace the use primates used in test, but more action needs to be taken to achieve the end of testing on primates."
“More than a quarter of primate species are in danger of extinction, yet wild-caught primates continue to be captured and taken from their natural habitat to be used for research in EU laboratories.
"Advancements in technology has provided alternative 'test' methods that are proving to be more efficient and reliable than primate experiments and ending the use of monkeys and apes in scientific trials must now be a priority."
David Martin (PES, UK) said: "Primates are so close to humans in their social, mental and emotional functions, that putting them through the extreme trauma of scientific testing should be unthinkable. Aside from this consideration scientific tests on primates are often bad science, and many of the species being used are endangered in the wild. For these reasons I have signed the written declaration calling for an end to scientific testing on apes, and wild-caught monkeys, and for a timetable to be established to phase out all scientific testing on primates."
"Hopefully through channels such as the European Parliament, we can campaign to end this cruel and inhumane practice."
More than 80% of respondents to the 2006 Commission’s public consultation on animals in experiments considered. MEPs point out that more than 10 000 primates are used in experiments every year in EU laboratories. The written declaration notes that almost all primate species share more than 90% of their DNA with humans and it is acknowledged that the primate species have a capacity to suffer greatly in captivity.
The Parliament notes that 26% of primate species are in danger of extinction and wild-caught primates continue to be used in laboratories, in addition it may be difficult to protect primates from threats such as human consumption if it is perceived that these species are used freely by Western academic institutions.
The declaration underlines that advanced technology and techniques now provide alternative methods that are proving to be more efficient and reliable than primate experiments, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), microdosing, computer modelling or tissue and cell culture,
MEPs note that despite genetic similarities, there are important differences between humans and other primates, and primate experiments cannot match the precision of human-based study.
The declaration together with the names of the signatories will be sent to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.