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Non-human primates in research and safety testing

 

About this Publication on Non-human primates

  1. Source for this Publication
  2. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)
  3. Background to the SCHER opinion
  4. Specific questions asked by the European Commission to the SCHER

1. Source for this Publication

The texts quoted in Level 3 are directly sourced from the Opinion on  "The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices", produced in 2009 by the SCHER (Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks) of the European Commission.

Levels 1 & 2 were written by the GreenFacts editorial team in collaboration with DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission.

This publication is produced by GreenFacts under a contract from DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission.

2. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)

The SCHER (Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks) is one of three independent non-food scientific committees set up in 2004 and renewed in 2009 by the European Commission to advise the Commission on matters of consumer safety, public health and the environment.

The SCHER provides the Commission with unambiguous scientific advice on health and environmental risks related to pollutants in the environmental media and other biological and physical factors or changing physical conditions which may have a negative impact on health and the environment, for example in relation to air quality, water, waste and soils, as well as on life cycle environmental assessment. It shall also address health and safety issues related to the toxicity and eco-toxicity of biocides.

For further information on the SCHER, see:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scher/04_scher_en.htm 

3. Background to the SCHER opinion

In 2002, the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) highlighted the continuing need to use non-human primates in biomedical research. Since then, a number of reports were published on the need to replace the use of non-human primates in biomedical research due to ethical and scientific reasons.

On 25 September 2007, the European Parliament adopted a declaration urging the Commission to end the use of great apes and wild-caught monkeys in scientific experiments; and to establish a timetable for replacing all primates in scientific experiments with alternatives.

In order to participate in this debate in a balanced manner, independent scientific information is needed. The Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission therefore requested the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) to issue an opinion in this context.

The Opinion on  "The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices", was adopted by the SCHER of the European Commission on 13 January 2009.

4. Specific questions asked by the European Commission to the SCHER

In its Opinion on  "The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices", the European Commission requested the SCHER (Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks) to address the following issues:

  • The areas of research (fundamental, translational and applied) and testing of products and devices in which non-human primates (NHPs) are used today;
  • The currently available possibilities to replace their use either with methods not entailing the use of animals or by resorting to other species of animals including genetically altered animals by type of research or testing;
  • The scientific outlook as to their replacement in short, medium and long term by type of research and areas of testing with a view to establishing a specific phasing-out time-table;
  • The opportunities for the reduction and refinement of their use in areas where no replacement can be foreseen in medium or long term as per the principles of the “3Rs”;
  • Research areas that investments should be made to advance replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of non-human primates in scientific procedures;
  • Possible implications in biomedical research (e.g. immune based diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, infectious diseases and serious diseases) should the use of non-human primates be banned in the EU.

The mandate for SCHER specifically excluded ethical, economic, cultural and social aspects of the use of non-human primates as this is dealt with by other groups within the EU Commission and the EU Parliament.

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