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Most research primates do not experience ongoing suffering, says Home Office group

A review by a Home Office working group into the experiences of primates used in neuroscience research has found that most do not suffer over the whole of their lifetimes.

This report was commissioned because the severity classifications used in animal testing were being used to refer mainly to single procedures undergone by an animal but it is now recognised that the potential lifetime experiences of the animals should also be considered. The study was carried out by the primate subcommittee working group of the Animal Procedures Committee, which advises the home secretary on matters concerned with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Animals can experience cumulative suffering if the “adverse effects of repeated scientific procedures and associated housing and husbandry practices add up to increase their suffering over their lifetime”, according to the review. However, anaesthesia, pain control and post-operative care have improved over the 10 years that survey data were collected from, according to the report. As a result, less than 1 per cent of experimental animals experience complications. Over the period studied, 26 animals were accidentally killed, over half of these deaths related to disorders that were not associated with the procedure taking place.

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