The recent implementation of EU legislation may drive biomedical studies using monkeys out of Europe and threaten the future of brain and vaccine research, a media report has revealed.
The article, (and pdf) in China Table, explained that since November, EU regulations now only allow researchers to use so-called F2 generation monkeys – defined as non-human primates bred from a first generation animal bred in captivity (F1) – and effectively thereafter to maintain self-sustaining colonies.
However, this rule has coincided with a dramatic shortage of research monkeys in Europe, due to demand during the Covid pandemic and a decision by China, where the major supply of animals comes from, to cease exporting these animals, in part due to a decision to increase their use in the country’s own biomedical research sector.
The article states that monkeys are ‘irreplaceable for some biomedical research’ and explains that anyone who received a Covid-19 vaccine approved in the EU has received a vaccine tested on research monkeys.
Both Prof. Dr. Stefan Treue, director of the German Primate Center (DPZ), and Kirk Leech, EARA executive director, who are quoted in the article, explained that now with supply difficulties and rising costs the EU could become less attractive in the future – and migrate to China.
Asked how the problem could be solved Stefan Treue said: "Here, it would be important for EU countries to find a sensible balance between banning the continued use of certain animals and the risks of this rule for animal welfare and science in Europe.”
Kirk Leech also felt the only long-term solution for Europe is to localise breeding, but the EU Commission should also work to achieve better supply chains: "If Europe wants to take the issue of resilience seriously, it's not just about masks or medical suits.”