The SCHEER report on ‘The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices’ fails to provide a comprehensive assessment of the validity and potential of non-animal methods, nor does it sufficiently and critically analyse the scientific value of studies currently using monkeys. Reflecting societal views, EU law states that the development of non-animal methods, in particular of non-human primates, should be advanced.
Eurogroup for Animals urges the Commission to, within the review of the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (2010/63), walk its talk and formulate a concrete strategy towards ending the use of primates .
Giulia Tarsitano, Animals in Science Programme Officer at Eurogroup for Animals says: ‘‘The SCHEER report represented an opportunity to offer an incentive for a paradigm shift towards animal-free research and strictly scrutinise the reliability of data originated from tests on primates. Unfortunately, the Committee fails to sufficiently acknowledge and address the many serious and legitimate concerns around the value of much research involving monkeys. Considering the opportunities currently offered by new technologies, it is paramount to reconsider many of the assumptions made on the validity of animal ‘models’. A new strategy to end primate use should be properly coordinated and funded and contain a timetable for bringing primate use to an end.’’
MEP Anja Hazekamp says: ‘‘Animal testing is still carried out on a daily basis in Europe. The fact is that these experiments are cruel and unacceptable and should be put to an end. European and national authorities must take responsibility and act now. Experiments on primates must be stopped immediately and all other animal experiments must be phased out in the shortest term possible. A concrete timetable for this is necessary as far too little progress has been made in reducing the number of animal tests since the last Scheer report in 2009. Instead of allowing and financing animal experiments, the focus should be on investing in and accelerating the development of non-animal testing methods, particularly where such methods have proven to be more accurate and effective. Non-animal research methods are to the advantage of both; humans and animals.”
Last year, the report ‘Transition to non-animal research’ published by the National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (NCAD) in The Netherlands shows that political support and ambition are crucial to deliver a change in this field.  As it is also being concluded by the Rathenau Institute in a recent study examining the necessity of primate research, non-animal science it is not only possible but necessary to guarantee progress and innovation.
Although the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes sets a specific framework for limiting research and testing on primate, these are still allowed in the EU. The SCHEER report was requested by the Commission to support a review of the Directive. The review process is currently being carried out and will be completed with the adoption of a final report in November 2017.
For more information please contact:
- SCHEER report (SCHEER is the Scientific Committee on Health Environmental and Emerging Risks) https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/scheer/docs/scheer_o_004.pdf
- Directive 2016/63 on the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32010L0063&from=EN
- NCAD is the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes as required under Article 49 of Directive 2010/63/EU of the Council and European Parliament on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes