Malaysia activists slam animal testing facility plan
KUALA LUMPUR — Environmental groups have blasted a Malaysian firm's plan to establish an animal testing facility using imported monkeys, in collaboration with a French pharmaceutical research company. The activists said the project was cruel and unacceptable, and that animal testing should not take place in Malaysia.
Officials familiar with the plan said the Johor State Investment Centre (JSIC) wrote a letter on May 8 to Malaysia's wildlife and national parks department, requesting permission to import macaques for the testing lab. "They (JSIC) said they wanted to import macaques to do animal testing. But animal testing in a controversial issue," Saharuddin Anan, director of the department's legislation and enforcement division, told AFP recently. "So we invited four local environmental groups to a meeting with the proponent of the project on June 12," he said.
Saharuddin said the proposal involved specially bred pathogen-free macaques to be imported from neighbouring countries.
The wildlife department collected responses from animal and environmental groups and "we are studying their (JSIC) application to import the macaques," he said.
A top JSIC official in Johor, a southern Malaysian state, declined to comment in a telephone call when asked to confirm the controversial plans. JSIC is owned by the state government, and promotes investment into Johor.
Conservation group Friends of the Earth said it was "totally opposed to the use of non-human primates or any other animals for research, experiments or vivisection."
The group's Malaysian president Mohamad Idris said they were informed at the briefing with JSIC and the wildlife department that the partners in the project would be an unnamed French pharmaceutical research company. "In laboratory research, monkeys are subjected routinely to pain... We are morally opposed to any animal research as no animals should be experimented with when alternatives to animal testing are available," he said in a statement.
Idris said the lab was expected to source the long-tailed macaques from Indonesia, Vietnam or China which trade in captive-bred monkeys. British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a London-based animal protection group, condemned the project.
"The use of non-human primates in research is being questioned internationally," Sarah Kite, its director of special projects, said in a statement.
"We urge Malaysia to put an end to these negotiations and to not allow itself to be part of an industry that inflicts such great suffering on our primate cousins," she added.
Monkey lab proposal still under study
Submitted by pekwan on Thursday, July 16th, 2009
THE Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is waiting for a full report from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) before deciding on the fate of a proposed pre-clinical monkey-testing facility in Johor.
Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas told Malay Mail Perhilitan is still studying the proposal sent to the Johor State Investment Centre (JSIC) by a French company.
"We will look at all areas and angles of the proposal before making any decision on the matter," Douglas said, adding that his ministry would have to consider other factors such as if the proposal would ultimately benefit the country, attract investments, provide employment opportunities and sustain a long-term business.
He said he has requested a full report from Perhilitan, which would not only include the department's findings following a study of the proposal, but also on current animal-testing practices, facilities and regulations in other countries.
"After that we will see what steps are to be taken," he said, stating it was too early to state if the Ministry would consider amending the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972 to include specific legislation pertaining to animal experimentation.
Douglas stated that the proposal by the French company was still being studied and that local NGOs, invited by Perhilitan to submit their views on the proposal, had "jumped the gun" by informing several British animal-rights groups, who then delivered letters of protest to the Malaysian High Commission in London last month.
News of the proposal had angered international animal welfare groups which felt European companies were attempting to sidestep impending revisions to the European Union's animal-testing legislation by taking advantage of Malaysia's lack in legislation on such matters.
On July 6, Malay Mail highlighted the protest by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and International Primate Protection League (IPPL) over the proposal which, if approved, would utilise imported captive bred long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) instead of wild Malaysian macaques.
The two organisations cited concerns on the conditions in which the captive monkeys were being kept at source countries and some "captive-bred monkeys" could turn out to be offspring of wild-caught primates.
Malay Mail discovered the proposal had been sent by a French company to JSIC which had forwarded the proposal to Perhilitan in May, which in turn invited several local animal welfare groups for a discussion to seek their input on the matter.
Several local animal welfare groups condemned the proposal, urging the government to send a strong message by declining and to seek alternative ways to replace animal experimentation as well as strengthen local legislation.
Currently the Members of European Parliament are debating possible revisions to its over 20-year-old animal-testing legislation, such as on limiting or banning non-human primate testing and the development of alternative methods to replace animal testing.
ACTION ALERT FROM THE BUAV AND IPPL:
PLEASE SUPPORT EFFORTS TO STOP THE CONSTRUCTION OF THIS PRIMATE TESTING FACILITY IN MALAYSIA
Write to the following:
En. Saharudin bin Anan
Legislation and Enforcement Division
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP)
Jabatan PERHILITAN KM. 10 Jalan Cheras
56100 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Fax: +603-9075 2873
En. A. Razak Majid
Department Of Wildlife And National Parks, Johor
Tingkat 9 Blok B, Wisma Persekutuan, Jalan Air Molek,
80000 Johor Baru,
Fax: + 603 7223 5702
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak Prime Minister's Office,
Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
Fax : + 603-8888 3444
E-Mail: email@example.com Comments can also be left on the Prime Minister's Office Web site:
Write to the Embassy of Malaysia in your country. See web link for details: