There’s an interesting story in today’s Age newspaper about primates being bred in Australia for medical and other scientific research.
Figures in the story show the number of primates being used for research in Australia is continuing to grow, even though protocols for the use of animals in research require alternatives to be used wherever possible. It is quite difficult to get the full picture about all the animals used in a variety of different types of research and institutions across across Australia, although the Humane Research Australia website provides some very useful stats and other information. Getting info about research using primates and other ‘higher’ animals is even more difficult, including what the purpose of the research is. But as this story shows, experiments on monkeys are being carried out right here in Brisbane by the Defence Force. Primates can also still be imported for research purposes, which is something Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon is seeking to prohibit.
The use of animals in research is is not something that is regulated consistently or transparently at a national level. I served for a couple of years on a University Animal Ethics Committee, which considered all research proposals which planned to use animals. The vast bulk of proposals involved using rats or mice – it tended to be that the more ‘developed’ the animal e.g. birds, pigs, dogs, the more scrutiny was given to whether the research was necessary and whether it could be carried out in more humane ways.
I never saw a proposal to use primates in research, but it is certainly something I find concerning, given the reality of emotional as well as physical harm being caused.