Gill, M. 2019. The Monkey Business and the UK: To what extent does EU and UK legislation protect long-tailed macaques bred in overseas farms but used for experiments in the UK. Canopy 20(1), 29-34.
Every year around 3,000 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are imported into the UK to satisfy the needs of pharmaceutical contract research organisations (CROs). CITES, and many NGOs suggest that the demand for macaques used globally in research procedures is a significant conservation pressure. Also, of concern are the welfare standards at breeding farms in Asia and Mauritius, that supply the needs of western researchers. European and British law sets a high statutory standard for the welfare of all animals used in research, and furthermore primates are recognised as “special”. Here I investigate to what extent the welfare and conservation needs of macaques in overseas supplier farms are addressed by UK legislation. In conclusion, EU and UK legislation does not ensure welfare in breeding farms in Asia and Mauritius. Nor does guidance from the Animals in Science Committee, and Animals in Science Regulation Unit, mandate or encourage CROs within the UK to motivate breeders to abide with the spirit of EU 2010/63 and Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. To what extent welfare standards are maintained or indeed what these standards should be is entirely at the discretion of individual CROs.