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Health foundation opposes monkey breeding for research

August 15, 2010

Scientific research on monkeys and other animals has reaped many medical breakthroughs, but breeding monkeys in Puerto Rico for export is not a good idea, said the Right to Health Foundation spokesman Saturday.

At a hearing of the Federal Affairs and Information Committee, held in the Guayama Convention Center, foundation President Dr. Eduardo Ibarra noted that animal experimentation has led to great scientific discoveries and has won several Nobel Prizes for the researchers, but that uncontrolled breeding of monkeys goes against ethical principles.

'We recognize that animals are still necessary in many scientific studies in order to understand the development of many illnesses," he said. "These studies are also important in looking for active mechanisms and possible cures for illnesses, as well as performing surgical procedures and anesthetics to develop new techniques."

However, he said, 'all modern technologies should be promoted as far as possible."

Ibarra praised "the scientific work being done on several kinds of animals in research centers in Puerto Rico."

However, he said, "all that has nothing to do with the proposal to set up a farm to breed and export primates of the macacus fasciularis species. This with a projected capacity of up to 15,000 of these creatures on an island 35 miles wide by 100 miles long."

He said despite the convincing arguments, "these facilities will never follow the strictest federal guidelines. It also does not explain why no European country consented to having these facilities on their soil. It also is interesting that no African countries, nor Israel, nor Canada, and much less the United States of America agreed to [breeding the monkeys.]

"In these moments in which the international scientific community is seriously questioning the use of experimenting with animals for medical and cosmetic purposes, it is improper, even disrespectful, towards our society's highest moral and ethical concepts to presume to abruptly establish this project in Puerto Rico.'

He said other similar installations have caused many problems and scandalized public opinion in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.

'Many of these breeding facilities are located in areas hidden out of sight of visitors who could witness the terrible suffering of these [primate] victims," he said. Although they insist federal regulations in Puerto Rico will make this impossible, this is still an industry that is highly suspected around the world," said Ibarra.

The physician recalled a large number of cases in which research animals have transmitted new illnesses to humans.

Ibarra concluded that he supported 'inconditionally" the concept of the Law of Economic Development of Knowledge in Puerto Rico to establish a public policy to promote and develop the economy of knowledge as an essential tool for the growth and sustained development of its economy.

'Nevertheless, we wish to emphasize that such a policy should be directed, not at the implementation of strategies and concepts considered obsolete or in obsolescence, such as experimenting with living animals, but rather at development and study through advanced, modern and scientific techniques," he said.

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