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Tuesday 25th June 2019

Improvements needed for monkey research

28th July 2011

A review has been undertaken of the use of monkeys in UK medical research.


In general, it found the work is of good quality and should continue, but the independent report revealed that no clear scientific, medical or social benefits had emerged from nearly one in 10 projects.

The review was led by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, president of the Zoological Society of London, who was commissioned by the main bodies that fund medical research in Britain.

They asked him to assess whether the studies on non-human primates (NHPs) were necessary, high-quality and yielded significant advances in medical science.

At present the proportion of monkeys used in research is lower than other animals and less than 0.1% of the total but there are concerns that they suffer more than other species during experiments.

Animal welfare groups opposed to experimentation on monkeys called again for the practice to be banned outright.

The review covered the period January 1997 to December 2006 when just under 3,000 animals were used in experiments, with the bulk of the research on neuroscience. Research on great apes is not permitted in the UK and so monkeys provide the next best animal models to study the human brain.

Professor Bateson said: “Funders and researchers should avoid overstating and generalising the medical benefit (of research on monkeys). Instead, statements should be based on the actual scientific basis for funding decisions.”

The report said scientists had a moral responsibility to publish all results on experiments involving monkeys even if they were not positive or not deemed interesting.


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