Labs write their own laws: proof in Essonne

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Through the Versailles Administrative Tribunal, One Voice has obtained numerous documents concerning checks at NeuroSpin laboratories by the Essonne Prefecture. As we read, an all too common portrait is confirmed of a completely submissive administration who has failed to fulfil even the most basic of their obligations towards animals by leaving them to endure clearly unacceptable conditions. We have thus referred to the Tribunal to ask for the authorisation allowing this laboratory to exploit primates to be retracted and to allow the animals to be rescued.

When laboratory inspection reports were requested from them, the Prefecture resisted – as usual. And at the Tribunal, its defence was shocking to say the least: if the results of the inspections were made public, “the establishments practising animal testing would no longer allow checks”. Unbelievable that these laboratories in Essonne are the ones who decide if public authorities can inspect them or not! The lives and fate of hundreds of animals are therefore at stake.

No authorisation? Never mind, we will continue anyway!

Since 2013, inspectors have noted that primates do not have enough “enrichment” and the light here is so weak that it is considered “incompatible with the biological needs of the animals”. Three years later, nothing had been resolved and new problems have surfaced: the unjustified isolation of animals, insufficient health monitoring, projects carried out without authorisation… 

However, no specific sanction was on the agenda – enough to strongly motivate the laboratory despite the non-renewal of its authorisation. Between 2017 and 2020, NeuroSpin illegally bought nineteen new macaques – among whom were JingoroJohan, and Simio – and quietly carried on with their testgin projects, training the macaques to obey by depriving them of water.

To ‘enrich’ the environment the primates were being kept in, the laboratory added a few coloured plaques between their cages... -Image taken from a report from the NeuroSpin meeting on 23 September 2019

Bogey’s agony should have moved things along

En 2020, les services vétérinaires notent à nouveau de nombreuses non-conformités graves. À ce moment-là, Bogey est en train de mourir lentement d’une infection soignée par un antibiotique périmé. 

Les inspecteurs menacent alors, à nouveau, de suspendre l’activité si les problèmes ne sont pas résolus rapidement. Mais cette mise en demeure disparait bien vite face à quelques nouveaux courriers d’engagement, main sur le cœur, à arrêter d’enfreindre la réglementation. Voilà donc que NeuroSpin, après trois ans d’activité illégale, est à nouveau adoubé par la préfecture. Tant pis pour Bogey.

Yet more deaths “under the good care” of the laboratory

The authorisation had hardly been renewed when Rubis was killed after an infection in his cranial implant – as Kimiko’s would be one year later. 

With two macaques left without food or water for four days, delayed and unsuitable treatment that “led to the euthanasia of Gabar, BogeyJohan, and Nori”, and the lack of a local infirmary, the Prefecture felt obliged to ban the laboratory from testing on primates… for a year. 

The rodents do not do much better and the monkeys are no better treated or better considered, since they are left parched again and again. Despite new violations, the administration decided in 2022 to renew the laboratory’s authorisation for six years. The only restriction: they must no longer use water deprivation to make animals obey.

The “permanent concern for refinement” at NeuroSpin

When we heard about the first documents on this subject, we asked the Prefecture to retract this disgraceful and clearly illegal authorisation. But they quite simply refused, going to far as to state that, during a new inspection at the beginning of the year, the “CEA Paris-Saclay Centre and the NeuroSpin laboratory had a permanent concern for refining practices”.

For the animals, we were not going to let such an affront be left to ethics and the law. We have thus immediately referred to the Versailles Administrative Tribunal to ask that NeuroSpin’s authorisation be retracted. You can support our work by signing the petition in order to get this laboratory closed down and the primates placed into a sanctuary.