Groups Ask USDA For Better Standards To Protect Primates Used In Research

Today, on behalf of several animal protection groups, we filed a petition with the United States Department of Agriculture asking it to adopt better mandatory standards for the psychological well-being of primates used in research.  The Petition, which can be found here, was filed on behalf of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.  It asks the USDA to adopt as standards under the Animal Welfare Act for all primates used in research the recommendations recently accepted by the National Institute of Medicine for “ecologically appropriate environments” for chimpanzees used in federally-funded research.  The AWA was amended in 1985 to require the USDA to issue “minimum standards” for a “physical environment adequate to promote the psychological well-being of primates.”  Since then, the USDA has failed to promulgate effective standards requiring primates to be housed socially and to be provided basic environmental enrichment --  the agency’s own enforcement personnel have complained that the current standards are weak and unenforceable.   The Petition requests that the agency adopt the new NIH recommendations, which are based on scientific evidence and expertise from the world’s leading primate experts, and would require all research facilities to provide for the psychological well-being of primates through standards that require social housing, environmental enhancement, access to outdoors,  and opportunities for choice and self-determination – all vital to non-human primates’ psychological well-being.