This summer, PCRM joined an international coalition taking a stand against the construction of a massive primate-breeding facility in Puerto Rico. On July 22, representatives from PCRM, the Puerto Rico Bar Association, and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection held a news conference asking Gov. Luis Fortuño to halt the construction of Bioculture’s monkey farm in Guayama for the sake of human health, animal welfare, and the environment.
Bioculture is a primate supply company based in the island nation of Mauritius, off the coast of Africa. The company ships long-tailed macaque monkeys—including some captured from the wild—around the world for use in drug and product testing and experiments.
Devastating to Public and Environmental Health
At the news conference, PCRM director of research policy Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., pointed out that, in addition to the suffering inherent in the animal trade, macaque monkeys like those who would be used in the proposed breeding farm can transmit diseases that affect humans.
“Primates in laboratories can carry a wide array of deadly diseases, including Ebola, hepatitis, yellow fever, and tuberculosis,” says Dr. Ferdowsian. “It’s clear that this monkey-breeding facility could pose serious health risks to Guayama and the surrounding region.”
The facility may also emit air and water pollution. Primate facilities often use incinerators to dispose of waste and dead animals. These incinerators release ashes and soot from animal carcasses, along with chemicals that can cause cancer and damage human embryos. Incinerators also release nitrogen oxides and other gases that can cause immune disorders and aggravate heart and respiratory diseases.
Harmful to Humans and Animals
Monkeys taken from the wild or from their mothers at breeding farms are housed alone in tiny steel cages. In addition to the pain and fear monkeys endure in testing, they suffer greatly from close confinement and isolation. In most cases, the monkeys are eventually killed.
The experts at the news conference also explained the problems with using primates in medical research in the first place. Recent reports in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Medical Journal have criticized the usefulness of primate experiments, noting that they consistently fail to predict the safety and effectiveness of drugs in humans.
ACTION ALERT: Contact the FDA About Animal Testing
Every day, thousands of animals are experimented on and killed to create and test drugs, many of which will never help a sick human being. That’s why PCRM and an international coalition of scientists, doctors, and animal-protection organizations filed the Mandatory Alternatives Petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The petition asks the FDA to mandate the use of validated nonanimal testing methods, when those alternatives exist, to create safer drugs for American consumers.
The FDA is currently reviewing the initiative. During this time, we need you to contact the FDA and urge the agency to mandate the use of validated alternatives to animal tests. Please write to:
Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
More than 60,000 PCRM members have already signed petitions that have been sent to the FDA.
To learn more about the Mandatory Alternatives Petition, visit Alternatives-Petition.org. To sign PCRM’s online petition to the FDA, go to Support.PCRM.org/FDA_Petition.