Animal Rights

European Union Apparently Bans Research Using Great Apes

| by Dr Ray Greek

I say apparently because the exact details are still a little hazy. According to AFP:

Europe banned the use of great apes in animal testing Wednesday as part of drastically tightened rules to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research . . . Under the new legislations, experiments on great apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are to be banned and "strict" restrictions set on the use of primates in general.

According to a press release by Humane Society International, the legislation includes:

A ban on the use of great apes such as chimpanzees (with prohibitive limitations on opportunities to deviate from the ban; no great apes currently used in EU labs).

I do not know what prohibitive limitations means. Does that mean the ban is absolute or that there can be exceptions? The press release later calls the ban on experiments on great apes symbolic. Is the ban symbolic because no great apes are currently used in experiments in the EU or because there are ways to get around the ban?

A Nature News story states:

The directive does ban some forms of research — those involving great apes or causing extreme and prolonged pain. But researchers can appeal for an exemption, on grounds of clinical urgency, through a special committee to be set up in Brussels.

According to Reuters:

In theory, great apes can be used in such research, but in practice license applications face rigorous EU scrutiny.

The above two articles makes it appear that the ban is not total and great apes can still be used provided the paperwork is performed.

I am very leery of announcements or legislation that proclaims the end of studies on animals or some types of animals. I have seen these many times over the years and there has always been a clause that allows the research community to totally disregard the legislation or regulation. Maybe I am interpreting this legislation incorrectly. I will let you know when I find out the real story.