Air France CEO Defends Transportation of Research Primates

(An abridged repost from Agence France Presse; "Air France to continue transporting lab monkeys")

May 21, 2015

Air France will continue to transport live monkeys for laboratory testing, the airline's CEO Alexandre de Juniac said at an Air-France-KLM shareholders' meeting held as animal rights activists protested nearby.

Juniac, who was re-elected by shareholders to remain at the helm of the French-Dutch company, said in response to an activist's question that the airline would defend the practice as long as it served the interests of science.
At the protest some of the around 30 activists donned monkey costumes and locked themselves up in a cage.

Challenged on the issue by a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Juniac said his company has sought advice from experts who believe "experimenting on primates with a similar genetic ancestry to human beings is indispensable" to research.
"So long as medical research for the improvement of human health requires these experiments, we will continue to transport them," he lashed out.

Juniac also said Air France applies relevant regulations and ensures the animals are well treated...

Research Responds to Critics in Today’s “Congress Blog”

Today, February 23, the Congressional news website, The Hill, featured an insightful and interesting pro-research piece in its “Congress Blog” entitled, “Childhood adversity needs more research, not less.”

In the op-ed, Paul McKellips, the Executive Vice President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, defends the humane use of animal models, like primates and rodents, in studying childhood stress to help determine and treat behavioral and emotional problems in adulthood from critics. Animal rights groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have targeted this important effort with advertisements, letter writing campaigns, and Congressional staff briefings.

McKellips writes, “Unfortunately, that research is under attack. Some activists claim that it's needlessly cruel. It's not. What is cruel, however, is shutting down a line of scientific inquiry that may help scientists mitigate -- or even reverse -- the effects of childhood psychological adversity.”

To read McKellips’ piece, please click here.

Scientific Societies Support NIH Nonhuman Primate Research

The nation’s largest primatological scientific society, the American Society of Primalogists (ASP), has made a strong statement in support of the scientist and research under attack by PETA.  The January 21 letter from the ASP Board of Directors to Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-CA) and the NIH Director can be found at ASP’s website.  The American Psychological Association (APA), the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U. S., also expressed their strong support for the targeted psychology researcher and his work to interested members of Congress and the NIH.  The APA Science Directorate statement is available online along with their January 21 letter. Speaking of Research subsequently posted NIH’s defense, the scientific society letters of support and their own comments about the necessity of responsible nonhuman primate research.

Regrettably, PETA is not listening.  Despite NIH’s transparent review of the subject research with clear explanation of its purpose and benefits, and respected scientists’ support for it, PETA went ahead with its January 27 “briefing” and vegan lunch on Capitol Hill to which congressional staff were invited.  Approximately 40 people attended, including PETA and other animal rights organization members; staff from the offices of December 22 letter writers; and other congressional staff, some of whom were curious to see how PETA would conduct itself.  The event was sponsored by Rep. Roybal-Allard, who made a statement (written copy unavailable).  The only other speakers were PETA representatives:  actor James Cromwell, University of New Mexico professor emeritus John Gluck, College of William and Mary anthropology professor Barbara King and neuroscientist Kathleen Roe from PETA’s laboratory investigation division.   No mention was made by speakers of NIH’s review of the work and official response.  According to Nature’s complete report of the event, despite NIH and scientific community support for the research involved, neither Rep. Roybal-Allard nor PETA are satisfied and intend to continue pursuing the issue.  The only other media coverage of PETA’s briefing to be found was a National Public Radio (NPR) blog posting by speaker Barbara King, who seemed to confuse this staff lunch briefing with a congressional hearing on the record.

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