Sir David Attenborough, along with 21 prominent scientists, has signed an open letter published in The Independent calling for an end to certain neuroscience experiment techniques on non-human primates.
The letter argues that many experiments in neuroscience research cause unnecessary levels of pain to non-human primates, the most concerning of which involve “fluid deprivation and movement restraint.” It says that newly developed, human-based alternatives challenge whether this form of research is essential.
"We, the undersigned, are concerned at the level of suffering involved in many neuroscience experiments on non-human primates," the letter states.
The list of scientists includes neuroscientists, biological anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, veterinary scientists, and conservationists from across the world. Their plea is particularly aimed at organizations that either fund or license the research.
Cruelty Free International say that the European Union used 6,095 monkeys in scientific experiments in 2011, along with 17,896 dogs, 77,280 pigs, and 8.5 million rodents.
A study published this year in the journal Alternative To Laboratory Animals found that advances in techniques such as fMRI scanning and electrocorticography have rendered much of non-human primate research unnecessary and less effective than other human-based methods. The study concluded: “We have confidence in opposing non-human primate neuroscience, both on scientific as well as on ethical grounds.”
On the other side of the argument, some argue that animal research plays a key role in biomedical breakthroughs.
You can read the full letter here.