There are few topics as controversial as research involving experiments on animals in general and primates in particular.
- from Max Planck Institute
“The conflict centres on two irreconcilable ethical obligations: the obligation to seek ways of making diseases treatable and in this way reduce human suffering, on the one hand, and the obligation to protect the lives of animals, on the other. As long as animal testing remains the only way of accessing knowledge about the functions and complex biological interactions in living organisms, there can be no satisfactory solution to this conflict.
A few figures to begin: As all experiments on animals are subject to both authorisation and approval, there are very accurate statistical records available on them. According to the statistics, the number of animals killed for the requirements of basic research in Germany is only 0.03 percent of the total number of animals sacrificed for human requirements (this only includes the animals killed to provide food and materials and does not include the extermination of so-called vermin etc.). Around three-quarters of all laboratory animals are rodents; the percentage of non-human primates (e.g. macaques, marmosets and vervet monkeys) is 0.05 and has remained constant for years.
Playing around with numbers like this is of little help when it comes to the ethical balancing of animal and human suffering. It is true that animals are killed to gain information. But it is not true that animals are tortured. It is clearly important to examine the harm and suffering inflicted on animals in basic research. However, the hope and assumption is that the knowledge gained from the experiments will serve in establishing a better understanding of the cause of diseases in animals and humans, and the development of effective treatments. The desire to forego the knowledge that can be gained from animal testing means deliberately foregoing the desire to help people who suffer from diseases for which no treatment currently exists. This is the moral dilemma” (read more).
(Source: Max Planck Institute)