Maneka Gandhi has joined the BUAV in a direct appeal to the Mauritius Government to stop Mauritius from becoming a country that allows animal cruelty and suffering through the establishment of testing and research facilities. Mrs Gandhi has highlighted the additional suffering that will be inflicted on the primates in Mauritius who will be the main species used by the research industry if the Pre-Clinical Research Bill is adopted by Parliament.
Mrs Gandhi stated: 'I am appalled to learn that a Bill which contains the potential for so much animal cruelty and suffering is even being considered by the Mauritius Government. Mauritius should be addressing and ending the suffering that is already being inflicted on the country's primate population, not looking for further ways to exploit and hurt them. Not only are such experiments morally unacceptable, they have no value in looking for cures for human diseases. India is moving very rapidly towards alternative ways of testing drugs. I appeal to the Government and people of Mauritius to take the moral high ground and turn its back on animal suffering and instead turn Mauritius into a forward thinking country that adopts the latest cutting edge and humane methods of testing that do not involve animals.'
The use of non-human primates in research is a controversial issue and one that raises strong public concern. It is an issue that is questioned internationally, most recently in the European Union, by scientists as well as others. The BUAV is concerned that European research companies, in an effort to avoid the growing public criticism of animal experimentation and attempts to impose stricter restrictions on the use of primates within the European Union, may be looking to outsource primate experiments or establish primate facilities in other countries where restrictions are more lax.
In addition to the ethical objections to animal experimentation, there are key biological differences between humans and other species and the results of animal research cannot be safely and reliably extrapolated to humans. Primate research has to date been singularly unsuccessful in developing treatments or vaccines for human illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and HIV/AIDS. For example, although primates have been used for the last 30 years in an attempt to develop and test potential vaccines for HIV, there is still no effective vaccine for humans. A recent analysis show that out of 85 potential AIDS vaccines that have been tested in 197 human trials, only seven (3.5%) have reached phase III trials, which involve a large group of human volunteers, and none of these were successful.
Michelle Thew, Chief Executive, BUAV stated: ‘We are grateful to Mrs Gandhi for her support on this important issue. There are valid alternatives to using non-human primates and other animals in pre-clinical testing. Due to recent advances in technology, there are a wide range of more human-relevant approaches to studying, understanding and ultimately contributing to the cure of many human diseases. In this modern age, there is simply no excuse for the acceptance of continued testing on non-human primates and other animals to continue.’