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BUAV urges Mauritian MPs to reject clauses on animal experiments in new Animal Welfare Bill

01/07/2013

The BUAV has written to members of the Mauritius Parliament to raise serious concerns about particular provisions in the Animal Welfare Bill currently before Parliament. The BUAV is urging MPs to reject clauses 8-11 that are contained in Part III which deal with animal experiments. 

Key concerns raised by the BUAV include:

- There will be a lack of opportunity to fully discuss the Bill because it will go through second reading, committee stage and third reading all on 2 July

- It is inappropriate to try to regulate animal experiments in four short clauses

- Clauses 8-11 simply do not belong in a bill the principal objects of which are to promote the welfare and good treatment of animals and to protect them from distress, pain or suffering. Experimenting on live animals does the opposite and it is disingenuous for the Government to pretend otherwise.

- The provisions would allow suffering and misery to be inflicted on sentient animals, in particular the country’s native population of long-tailed macaque which we understand will probably be the main species used in the research facilities

Furthermore, there are many gaps in Part III of the bill and some key omissions compared to standard legislation about animal experiments. These include:

- no harm: benefit test, which obliges a licensing authority to weigh the likely suffering of the animals against the likely societal benefit. Assessing the quality of the science is a key element of the test

- no prohibition where there are non-animal alternatives or methods which would involve fewer animals or less suffering (the so-called Three Rs principle – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement – which is a standard requirement where animal experiments are permitted)

- no prohibition on the use of wild-caught primates

- no prohibition on the use of stray cats and dogs, which is particularly relevant given the large stray population in Mauritius, as the bill recognises

- no rules about the housing and care (including veterinary care) of animals

- no provision for governmental inspections (as there was in previous legislation)

- nothing limiting the re-use of animals

- no training and education requirements for researchers

- no transparency, thereby making it impossible to hold researchers and the Government to account

There is already growing national and international awareness and concern surrounding the trapping, breeding and exporting of long-tailed macaques from Mauritius for research. Leading religious, socio-cultural groups and NGOs in Mauritius and the UK have expressed their objection to this trade including the Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation, the National Council of Hindu Temples UK, Hindu House, Arya Sabha Mauritius, ISKCON, the Federation of Arya Samaj and the Institute of Jainology. Concerns have also been expressed from around the world, including by prominent Indian politician, animal and environment campaigner, Maneka Gandhi and by Members of the UK Parliament.

Primates are used in fundamental research, including studies in neurological, drug addiction, maternal deprivation and other conditions. Many of these experiments involve implanting electrodes, causing brain lesions or making the primates dependent on various drugs. This can often result in substantial pain and suffering. Primates are also used in toxicity testing where they are forced to consume, inhale or be injected with poisonous chemicals that may cause vomiting, pain from metabolic disturbances, convulsions, collapse of their vascular system, shock, difficulty in normal physiologic processes such as breathing and slow death.

Michelle Thew, Chief Executive of the BUAV stated: “We urge Members of the Mauritius Parliament to do the right thing and reject these disturbing and ill-thought out clauses. The provisions would, if enacted, further tarnish the international reputation of Mauritius, which is already suffering as a result of the country's position as the world's second largest supplier of primates for research.”

The BUAV ran an eye catching advert (above) over the weekend in the Mauritius media to highlight the bill.

Learn more and get involved with the BUAV Save Our Monkeys campaign