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Primate experimentUncaged's Analysis of Weatherall Report on Primate Research


A new report (the 'Weatherall Report') commissioned by groups in favour of animal testing has - predictably - endorsed experimentation on primates.

As revealed by Uncaged last spring, three of the four organisations behind the study are part of a coalition that lobbies the government in favour of animal testing. The Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Wellcome Trust are all members of the self-styled 'Coalition for Medical Progress' (CMP), a drug industry-backed lobby group dedicated to promoting animal experiments and preventing meaningful regulation. The fourth body, the Royal Society, also has a long tradition of pro-vivisection lobbying.

In order to prevent dissent against the vivisection of primates, the study organisers explicitly excluded animal welfare groups. As a result, Uncaged and other anti-vivisection groups boycotted the study due to a lack of confidence in the study's impartiality. This decision has been vindicated by the report's fundamentally inaccurate picture of primate experimentation.

For example, there was no reference to the most reliable case study of primate experimentation in recent times - the Imutran pig-to-primate transplant research exposed by Uncaged in 2003. The unique Imutran documentation reveals three basic fictions put forward by the Weatherall report.

Firstly, the report assumes that researchers' belief in the benefits of primate experimentation can be trusted. However, the Imutran affair showed that researchers ignored evidence indicating that pig organ transplantation was unachievable, as proved to be the case. Throughout the Weatherall report, the consistent failure of primate vivisection in relation to urgent health problems such as HIV/AIDS is glossed over. This complacent report sacrifices public health for the sake of pro-vivisection political posturing.

Secondly, the report gives the impression that primates do not endure significant suffering in lab experiments. But in the Imutran research, monkeys and baboons were subjected to severe and macabre transplantation surgery and then dosed with massive doses of toxic immune-suppressing drugs. The fate of this baboon, recorded by the researchers themselves, is typical: X214f was observed on her last day: 'Collapsed on cage floor. Abdomen swollen and appears fluid filled. Salivating. Very laboured breathing. Extreme difficulty trying to walk'.

Thirdly, the report repeats the myth that experiments on primates are strictly regulated. However, the publication of the Imutran documents was permitted because of evidence that Imutran and Home Office inspectors had colluded to avoid the regulations. Many monkeys were either found dead or in severe ill-health before they were put down, in clear breach of the law. No researcher has been punished and the Home Office has consistently blocked an independent inquiry.

The final nail in the coffin for the Weatherall report's credibility is the fact that having ignored reliable primary evidence of primate experiments, instead it merely links to CMP's sanitised footage.

Interestingly, the report has drawn criticism from a very broad range of groups. Even the National Centre for the 3Rs - a body which accepts animal research in principle and is part of the MRC - complained about the failure of the report to even suggest a road map for the replacement of primate experiments.

Uncaged Campaigns 12.12.06


Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.