May 30, 2024

Shortage of primates slows research

The first audit of non-human primates used in global research has found that not enough apes and monkeys are being bred for research, that the shortfall could be slowing scientific advances and that lack of information about the animals in papers makes it difficult to gauge their validity. A group at the University of Uppsala in Sweden conducted the survey. It estimates that in 2001 3,000 research papers were published based on experiments on primates, with 4,411 studies on 41,000 animals. However, the real number of animals used is likely to be 200,000, as many government studies are never published.

However large this may seem, it actually masks a shortage of primates, which are the only suitable animals for some types of research. Some grant proposals are being turned down because there are not enough animals to study. One sign of the shortage is that researchers, especially in the US, often have to perform successive independent studies on the same animals — sometimes as many as six or seven times — a practice which is criticised by animal defence groups.