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Victory! Puerto Rican Residents Win First Battle Against Monkey Farm

Victory! Puerto Rican Residents Win First Battle Against Monkey Farm

After nearly six months of pressure from PCRM and other organizations, a
judge last week ordered a temporary halt to construction of a
primate-breeding facility in the Puerto Rican town of Guayama that has
raised serious health and environmental concerns among local residents.

The decision by Judge Juan Frau Escudero of Guayama's Superior Court is
the latest development in a lawsuit filed against Bioculture, Ltd., by
Puerto Rico residents who say the company has not submitted a full
environmental impact statement or held public hearings. Judge Escudero's
ruling, which cites irregularities in the permitting process, follows a
report from the Puerto Rico Senate that found strong evidence that
Bioculture supplied misleading and contradictory information to obtain
permits for the project.

Bioculture, a Mauritius-based company that ships macaque monkeys around
the world for use in product testing, wants to breed and sell monkeys for
experimentation at the Guayama facility. But the company applied for an
animal husbandry permit -- meant for farmers intending to breed cows and
other animals raised for food.

'Today's ruling is a victory for the people of Guayama and for everyone
concerned about safeguarding the environment and protecting primates from
inhumane experiments,' says PCRM primatologist Debra Durham, Ph.D. 'It
sends a message to Bioculture that Puerto Rico will not tolerate
manipulation of its legal system.'

The Puerto Rican Senate's report found that Bioculture 'has had an
extremely defiant and disrespectful attitude to the law, at least in parts
of the process of obtaining the permits.'

'We conclude that the action and non-actions of the company with respect
to the protection and integrity of the cultural, historic and
archeological resources of the land has been absolutely inadmissible and
reprehensible,' the Senate report said.

The proposed facility could pose serious risks to public health and the
environment. Monkeys are likely to escape from Bioculture's Guayama
facility. Such escapes could result in the establishment of another
invasive species in Puerto Rico, adding to the serious problems already
caused by patas monkeys and rhesus monkeys who also invaded the island by
escaping from research facilities.

Strong concerns about the Bioculture project have been expressed by both
local opponents of the facility and an international coalition of
nonprofit health and animal protection organizations, including the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the British Union for the
Abolition of Vivisection, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Recent reports in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the
British Medical Journal have criticized the usefulness of primate
experiments, noting that they consistently fail to predict the safety and
effectiveness of drugs in humans.

By voicing your concerns, thousands of citizens like you contributed to
this first victory. The judge's ruling is a significant victory, but it
may not be the last word in this fight. Please visit PCRM.org and continue
to let Puerto Rican officials know that you support the international
campaign to halt the construction of Bioculture's monkey farm.

http://www.pcrm.org/newsletter/jan10/monkey_farm.html

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