No more primates
A bill pending in Australia’s parliament may lead to a prohibition on imports of marmosets and other monkey species for use in clinical trials. The proposed legislation is causing concern among the country’s scientists, especially those that rely on regular imports to maintain the genetic diversity of its primate colony. According to Senator Lee Rhiannon, who introduced the bill, the measure would guarantee Australia’s disassociation from the trade in wild primates captured for use in scientific experiments. However, scientists interviewed for the journal Nature say that Australian law already prohibits such experiments on wild primates. “The animals must be certified and supplied by a registered and licensed breeder from outside the country,” explains James Bourne, president of the National Non-Human Primate breeding and Research Facility Board of Australia. In a published statement, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) opposed the senate bill and stood beside the country’s scientific community. Animal research, according to the FENS statement, “remains the foundation for medical advances that can increase human life expectancy.” In his support for the bill, Rhiannon not only favors alternative research methodologies, but points to the opportunity it provides for broadening the discourse surrounding animal research in general.