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Chinese wildlife ban freezes export of ‘test’ monkeys, and the evil scientists don’t like it

Until recently, China supplied roughly 80% of monkeys imported into the United States for scientific research. But application of the new ban has effectively halted the Chinese trade in monkeys.

NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE: A Chinese ban on the sale of wild animals has frozen the export of monkeys used for pharmaceutical research, turning a measure to prevent future outbreaks into a new obstacle in the fight against the pandemic.On Jan. 26, the Chinese government temporarily banned the transport and sale of wild animals after a deadly new coronavirus began to spread through a Wuhan market that advertised the sale of live cats, dogs, snakes, rats, foxes, civets, monkeys and other creatures. Less than a month later, China permanently outlawed all trade in wild terrestrial animals, a move praised by international wildlife advocacy groups…

Until recently, China supplied roughly 80 per cent of the monkeys imported into the United States for scientific research, according to statistics maintained by the National Association of Biomedical Research, an advocacy group. But strict application of the new ban has effectively halted the Chinese trade in research monkeys, local scientists and breeders said in interviews. Foreign shipments have been frozen, and even domestic researchers have struggled to secure government approval to acquire what scientists call “non-human primates” amid a worldwide race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

“Not only have the sale and transport of test monkeys been stopped, but all exports are banned as well. Many companies and institutes are unable to use test monkeys, because they just can’t,” said Qin Zirui, manager of Guangdong Blooming-Spring Biological Technology Development Co. Ltd., a major Chinese supplier of research monkeys whose facilities sprawl over 70 hectares… Monkeys have been used by Chinese researchers to test susceptibility to COVID-19 infection and to examine immunity after recovery. They have also been used in both domestic and international vaccine development programs.

Advocates for animal research, meanwhile, have sought to use the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic to argue in favour of testing on primates and others… The availability of research animals is a key concern for scientists around the world as they seek to test the safety and effectiveness of vaccines before launching human trials… Their use in research is growing, up more than 20 per cent in the U.S. between 2015 and 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

At the same time, animal rights groups that decry the practice have succeeded in creating obstacles to the shipment of monkeys for medical research. Among major air carriers, only Air France remains willing to transport them, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last week renewed calls for the airline to end the practice, which PETA said “is dangerous and poses a serious public health risk” while involving animals in “pointless and deadly studies.”  SOURCE…

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