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Every year, around 10,000 nonhuman primates are used in experiments within Europe (according to the latest EU statistics, 2008). No law specifically calls for primates to be used in research in the EU, and opinion polls suggest that the overwhelming majority of the public do not believe that experiments on monkeys are acceptable.
The tests these monkeys are subjected to almost inevitably cause them pain, discomfort and suffering, much of it profound. Most will be killed at the end of the experiment.
The monkeys are often housed on their own in small, barren, metal cages, sometimes for many years. With little opportunity for mental stimulation and physical exercise, they frequently develop abnormal and self-destructive behaviours that may include pacing, rocking, swaying, bar biting, and self-mutilation.
Nonhuman primates are our closest relatives and share many of the important characteristics of humans. They are intelligent and highly-evolved animals with complex needs that laboratories can never hope to meet adequately.
However, despite the similarities, there is very little scientific evidence that primate experiments predict results in humans, but there are numerous examples where they have not. The failure to find a vaccine for HIV/AIDS is just one example – not one of over 80 vaccines that was tested successfully on primates has worked in human patients.
The ECEAE wants to see investment in modern, humane alternatives that actually work. In the 21st century we have a responsibility to do better – for both humans and nonhuman primates.