Primates exposed to severe suffering in brain research experiments in Germany
15 November 2022
Doctors Against Animal Experiments have revealed the severe suffering of non-human primates used for brain research experimentation in Germany, and reveal that eight institutions are currently carrying out similar tests that should be banned under EU law.
In 2009, six dead primates used for scientific experimentation at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen were sent to a governmental pathological institution to investigate their cause of death. The examination revealed severe injuries on the skull, cerebral membranes and the brain which must have caused excruciating pain for months.
New photo and video evidence obtained by Doctors Against Animal Experiments has exposed the extreme cruelty of the experiments to the public. The footage garnered significant interest and was broadcast on a major German television programme.
Monkeys in brain research are subjected to unimaginable suffering. This is revealed by a dissection report documenting head injuries such as drill holes in the skull bone and stab wounds in the brain of such animals. Official veterinary pathologists found that the monkeys used by the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPI Tübingen) in Tübingen were suffering not only severely, but extremely severely, which was fully known to the competent authorities.
Doctors Against Animal Experiments
This shocking case is not an isolated incident. The MPI Tübingen stopped its primate experiments in 2017 due to public pressure after years of campaigning and an undercover investigation in 2014. However, similar tests are still being carried out in Bremen, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Marburg, Frankfurt, and at three other institutes in Tübingen.
Directive 2010/63/EU sets an upper limit for pain and suffering above which animal testing should no longer be carried out. Recital 23 states that “from an ethical standpoint, there should be an upper limit of pain, suffering and distress above which animals should not be subjected in scientific procedures”, and article 15 states that “Member States shall ensure that a procedure is not performed if it involves severe pain, suffering or distress that is likely to be long-lasting and cannot be ameliorated.”
However, if for exceptional and scientifically justifiable reasons, a Member State deems it necessary to carry out a procedure involving severe pain, suffering or distress that is likely to be long-lasting and cannot be ameliorated, Member States may adopt a provisional measure to allow such a procedure. In that case, the Member State shall immediately inform the Commission and the other Member States, and provide reasons and evidence for its decision to allow a provisional measure. Then, the Commission may either authorise the provisional measure or require the Member State to revoke the provisional measure.
When applying for project authorisation, researchers classify the severity of this type of procedure usually as “moderate” (i.e. short-term moderate pain, suffering or distress, or long-lasting mild pain, suffering or distress). The unveiling of Doctors Against Animal Experiments have shown that primate brain research procedures often involve pain, suffering or distress that is “likely to be long-lasting and cannot be ameliorated”. Therefore, such procedures should only be authorised if they have been the subject of a request for a provisional measure, in accordance with the Directive.
Call for action in Germany
Doctors Against Animal Experiments are calling for decision-makers to no longer approve such procedures in Germany, and to stop the use of non-human primates in brain research immediately.
It was like over 35 years ago that Joanne and I, plus a few other members of our (then) group, went up to the Mauritanian embassy in London to protest against the primate trade. Read more and see photos of that day in the first link below.
I am unsure if the primates associated with the German issue detailed above were originallly supplied from Mauritius; all I can do is try to publicise what is still happening in Europe right now.