Activists In Monkey Suits Turn in Anti-Primate Research Petition

On August 2, several animal rights activists dressed in monkey suits showed up at Number 10 Downing Street along with Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker to turn in the 163,000 signatures they had gathered on a petition asking for a ban on primate research in the UK.

The Next of Kin campaign, organized by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, argues that medical research with primates is cruel and should be abolished.

Most British newspapers wrote bland summaries of the event, typically with a short quote from Simon Festing of the Research Defense Society saying,

BUAV are right to highlight the similarity of primates to humans – that is why they are so useful. But they are only a fraction of the number of animals used in research, around 0.1%, and they have been essential in a number of areas, including hepatitis vaccine, fertility studies, the modern contraceptive and research into Parkinson’s disease.

The Manchester Evening News, however, ran a story which was read like BUAV itself had drafted the story. That included this odd claim,

Less than 20% of medical primate use is for medical research, with 70% for the profit of pharmaceutical companies.

. . .

Research suggests toxicology procedures, to benefit pharmaceutical companies — the majority of primate use (70%) — can lead to loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, unsteady gait or loss of balance and even death.

Just accepting the figures for now, toxicology research isn’t medical research? Does Manchester Online believe that pharmaceutical companies should start selling drugs without first having performed toxicological assays?

Sources:

Total ban on primate testing plea. Manchester Evening News, August 2, 2005.

Petition calls for end to testing on primates. Matthew Tempest, The Guardian, August 2, 2005.

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