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Primate research backed

12th December 2006

A report has suggested there is a ‘strong scientific and moral case’ for using primates in some areas of research.

The Weatherall report, which was commissioned by the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society, Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, has said that in certain circumstances using non-human primates remained the only way of answering important scientific and medical questions.  However the report, which has been welcomed by scientists, makes a number of recommendations, including the creation of dedicated primate research centres which are well-monitored and meticulously regulated.

Over 3000 primates are used for research in British laboratories each year and it is their genetic similarity to humans which makes them so valuable in testing the safety and efficacy of drugs.  The Weatherall report found that primate research remained a necessity for understanding the basic biology of the human brain, neurological diseases, communicable diseases, and some aspects of fertility and ageing.  However, primate research is becoming rarer as researchers fear intimidation from animal rights activists.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav) called the report a "whitewash" saying it failed “properly address the welfare needs and moral case for subjecting these sensitive, intelligent creatures to a lifetime of suffering?.

 

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