Primate Research

BBC writes that “UK experts back primate research”. Mind you, there is primate research and there is primate research. They are not talking about primatologists running around in the bush with binoculars and a clipboard.

About 3,300 primates are used in British laboratories each year…

Many researchers say primates’ genetic and physiological similarities to humans make them a prime candidate for testing the safety and efficacy of drugs…

non-human primate research remained vital for understanding the basic biology of the brain, neurological diseases, communicable diseases, and some aspects of fertility and ageing.

They are no doubt right. But I remember when I first thought that other primates’ senses and emotions are probably just like ours. It was during a memorable meal of cassava and roasted baby monkey in the Ituri forest in Congo. Eating cassava paste is like eating glue, and the monkey looked just like something the fire brigade had recovered from a burnt down home.

Laboratory research using primates serves a useful purpose, no doubt about it. But I still think that using non-human primates in this way is not all that different from using humans.

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