The conclusions of a report, commissioned by the Home Office and published today, that there is insufficient evidence to justify classifying most neuroscience experiments on non-human primates as ‘severe’ because of the cumulative suffering over time, has been condemned as outrageous by the BUAV.
The BUAV has consistently argued that the common categorization of neuroscience experiments on primates as 'moderate' is wrong because it fails to recognise the importance of assessing distress cumulatively, over the animals’ lifetime, which is particularly important for those kinds of experiments in which primates are kept for years. We believe that the Home Office routinely underestimates 'distress' in neuroscience experiments where primates can suffer for years, held in small cages, subjected to invasive brain surgery to implant electrodes and forced to conduct repetitive behaviour tests and recording sessions that can last hours in which the animals are immobilised in restraint chairs. In addition, the animals are often food or water deprived continually to coerce them into carrying out these tasks. The BUAV argues that these disturbing neuroscience experiments should be classified as 'severe' and it would be inconceivable to most people that they are not.
BUAV Chief Executive, Michelle Thew states: 'This conclusion is shocking. Many neuroscience experiments that are conducted in the UK involve primates subjected to food and water deprivation for many years and restraint by the head for several hours per day. Any sensible person would consider this to cause substantial distress. By failing to use common sense and give animals’ the benefit of the doubt, the Home Office is underestimating suffering and simply misleading the public about the true scale of suffering involved in animal research in the UK.'
This morning Dr Jarrod Bailey, the BUAV's Scientific Advisor, was interviewed about the conclusions of this report on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. You can hear Dr Bailey here from 2 hours 36 minutes and 45 seconds: http://bbc.in/1eti2R7