Rare search in the wild

April 14, 1995

In reporting the Government ban on the use of wild-caught primates for research (THES, March 31) your correspondent quite correctly quoted me as saying that this "formalises what has become the accepted good practice over the past couple of years".

Unfortunately, the following point attributed to me was not reproduced correctly. The article suggested that I predicted that it would not become more difficult to get permission for research on wild-caught primates. What I actually said was that I did not think it would become more difficult to get permission to use primates in research, because it was already normal practice to use purpose-bred primates whenever possible. There are, very rarely, situations when a piece of research can only be done using a certain species of primate, which is not or cannot be bred in captivity. Under these circumstances, researchers will be able to make a case to the Home Office that the research is sufficiently important that an "exceptional and specific" justification can be made. Given the concern we all share about wild-caught primates, I doubt whether the Home Office will grant such exceptions lightly.

Mark Matfield

Executive director, RDS

Understanding Animal Research in Medicine

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