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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
'No plans' to stop animal testing
Primate, RDS/Wellcome Trust photo
Campaigners want a ban on testing on any non-human primates
There are no immediate plans to stop using primates and other animals for medical research in the UK, the government has revealed.

There would be no plans while benefits to humans, animals and the environment outweighed the costs to animals, junior minister Joan Ryan said.

She had been asked in the Commons if there were plans for more controls as part of an ongoing review of EU rules.

Anti-vivisection campaigners want a ban on testing on any non-human primates.

A European directive which seeks to improve controls on the use of laboratory animals is currently under revision.

Ban call

"There is no immediate prospect of an end to the use of primates whilst the benefits to humans, animals and the environment outweigh the costs to the animals involved and until there are suitable alternatives available," Ms Ryan said in a written reply.

"The development of new drugs and medical and veterinary technologies is still dependent on the information and insights derived from the well-designed, properly conducted and carefully regulated use of animals including primates."

As well setting out minimum standards for the care of laboratory animals, the directive - first adopted by the Council of Ministers in 1986 - aims to reduce the number of animals used where alternatives are available.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav) has called for a ban on testing on any non-human primates.

It says that, despite the government's assertion that primates should only be used if no other species is suitable, the use of primates for medical research is increasing.

"The government has the best chance it's had in 20 years to respond to the scientific and moral imperative to do something to stop this pointless suffering in the best interests of animal and human health," Buav campaigner Dave Powell added.


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