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JAVA Makes a Town Give up a Plan of Constructing the World's Largest Breeding Facility for Lab Marmosets

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JAVA has Succeeded in Making a Town in Japan Give up a Plan of Constructing the World's Largest Breeding Facility for Lab Marmosets. 

In March, 2008, a local newspaper in Okinawa reported that KinTown in Okinawa had a plan of constructing a breeding facility where they would keep more than 2000 marmosets for the purpose of breeding and marketing. In fact, it became clear that the town mayor and the town councilors united to push ahead the plan, expecting the plan to revitalize the town and to create new jobs for 25 people. They also estimated the economic effect to be more than Yen 450 million (approximately US $ 4.5million) in a year.

JAVA (Japan Anti-Vivisection Association) thought that it would be impossible to make the town give up the plan by telling them the actual conditions and cruelty of animal testing. So we changed the tactics into showing the data that there was less demand for marmosets than the town expected, and the economic effect would be much smaller. We asked animal-rights organizations in U.K. and the U.S., with which JAVA is in partnership, for advice and information. In order to make them give up the plan, JAVA pointed out the following six problems to Kin Town and the Northern large municipal area Union, with which Kin Town had been discussing the project. 

    Animal testing is very cruel and the voice of protest against experiments on animals is getting bigger and bigger both in Japan and overseas.

    Observance of the principle of 3R's in animal testing is now an international flow of times, and also in Japan, the 'Revised Law for the Humane Treatment and Management of Animals' has adopted the principle. As for international organizations, they are now trying to adopt alternative methods in their guidelines on safety in place of animal testing and, following Europe and America, a new organization for evaluating alternative methods was established in Japan. This shows world-wide movement against animal testing and surge for promoting alternatives, whereas this project goes against the trends of the times. 

    There is a strong opposition against animal experiments, especially against the use of primates.

    In many countries, including New Zealand and U.K., the use of large primates in experiments is prohibited, and in Japan invasive experiments on them are not performed. The adoption of 'the Berlin Declaration in 2005' and '0040/2007 Declaration' in European Parliament shows that many people, including scientists, those who belong to animal-rights groups, or parliaments etc. raise their voice against experiments on primates. As for marmosets, in 2002, there was a case where a plan of building more experimental facility was abandoned by an English animal-rights organization, BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection), unveiling the actual conditions of experiments on marmosets in Cambridge University and the cruelties of the experiments. 

    Kin Town's expected economic effects will not be achieved.

    CLEA Japan Inc., which deals with the production and sales of laboratory animals and is supposed to mainly manage the facility, told Kin Town that an economic effect would be more than Yen 450 million (approximately US $ 4.5million). CLEA also said that more than 2,000 marmosets are expected to be in demand in Japan and European countries and more than 10,000 marmosets per a year in the U.S.  But in fact, as breeding marmosets is rather easy, there is no scarcity in Europe or U.S.A.. In addition, in Europe, there is little import of marmosets except from EU and from other ETS 123 signatories, and in U.S.A., imported marmosets numbers 275~375. In Japan, the number of marmosets for experiments is at most 400. These facts tell that the economic effect estimated by CLEA Japan is too big and the project will do economically serious damage to Kin Town if it is carried out.

    Constructing such a facility could cause a high risk of contaminating the surroundings and the environments.

    In1998, in Holzheim, France, a plan for building a primates breeding facility was abandoned by a strong opposition movement against the plan, because people feared the facility might produce a new kind of virus or contaminate underground water and the surroundings.

    There is always a risk of environmental pollution in keeping 2,000 marmosets. Kin Town is blessed with natural beauty. The environmental pollution could do enormous damage to the tourism of the town.

    In case CLEA should withdraw, Kin Town will be responsible for the care of  marmosets that are left there and the expenses the town bears will be enormous.

    In 1997, a company which produced medicines for animals went bankrupt, leaving 440 laboratory dogs and cats behind. In this case since the animals were dogs and cats, local animal-rights groups could find owners and save these animals. But in the case of marmosets, it is almost impossible to hand them over to ordinary families. 

    As for chimpanzees, when all invasive experiments were stopped in Japan, a pharmaceutical company took chimpanzees who were left there into care and continues to keep them, spending annually 25o million Yen (approximately US $2.5 million) on the maintenance. (In April, 2007 the management was transferred to Kyoto University Primate Institute and the facility is now a sanctuary for them) In case CLEA Japan withdraws leaving marmosets behind, the town will have to keep the marmosets. Marmosets have a rather long life of 15~20 years and the town will have to spend a large sum of money on the management and the personnel expenses.

    Participating in animal testing will give Kin Town a negative image.

    The criticism for experiments on animals is getting severer and severer both in Japan and overseas. Participating in animal testing will certainly give the town a negative image and the damage it gives on tourism, which is the major industry of Kin Town, is immeasurable. 

 A month after JAVA pointed out the serious problems and asked the town authorities to give up the project, we got an answer from the Union, in which they wrote they had a great anxiety about the project and so they thought it impossible to realize the plan. In addition, the mayor also sent us a reply about giving up the project.

 JAVA was ready to carry on a wide-scale opposition campaign, appealing to animal-rights organizations all over the world for participating in the movement. At the same time, we declared our determination to the town.

Thus the project was stopped and no marmoset was used for experiments. We received many congratulation letters on our success from overseas animal-rights groups who helped us on this issue. We will continue taking a strong attitude toward such a plan as promotes animal testing. 

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