A Critique of the Bateson Review of Research Using Non-Human Primates

Andrew Knight

Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, UK

AATEX 17(2):53-62, 2012

Approximately 4,000 - 5,000 scientific procedures using non-human primates (NHPs) are commenced annually in Great Britain. The 2011 review by Bateson and colleagues was the first major systematic assessment of the ethics of this research. It concluded that 91% of 67 NHP studies conducted from 1997 - 2006 were ethically justifiable. However, the review systematically underestimated the costs to the NHPs. Additionally, it concluded that the medical impacts of a significant proportion of studies was low, and was sometimes exaggerated. Accordingly, the majority of these studies were incorrectly assessed as ethically justified. Many of the responses of the funding organisations to the review's recommendations were positive. Deeply concerning, however, was their failure to adequately acknowledge or respond to repeated criticisms concerning unsubstantiated claims and exaggerations of the medical value of NHP research. Clearly, poorly-substantiated claims about the medical utility of NHP studies by researchers or their funding organisations must be met with considerable caution.

key words: Bateson Review, non-human primate, monkey, animal experiment, animal research, 3Rs


(AATEX: Altern. Animal Test. EXperiment.: Alternatives to Animal Testing and EXperimentation)