Clearly, the deplorable conditions authorised by regulations are not adequate at NeuroSpin. Since October 2022, One Voice has been able to obtain tens of documents regarding primates’ lives exploited by this laboratory located in Essonne, which has been breaking the law for over ten years. Cranial implants, water deprivation, minuscule cages, lack of care: while the Prefecture seems to be in total denial, we have appealed to the Versailles Administrative Tribunal to ask for NeuroSpin’s authorisation to allow experiments to be retracted and for the seizure of the animals to be considered.
For several years, nice wording on animal testing ‘ethics’ has appeared on the websites of institutions and businesses that use animals. The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission [CEA – Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) is no exception. We talk about “respecting animals as living beings and sensitive, likely to feel pain, suffering, and anxiety” and of the “ethical approach to implement each time an experiment involving animals is considered”.
However, the reality is much different.
A worrying initial inspection report for macaques
After an unrelenting administrative battle, we have received the inspection report carried out in March 2022 at NeuroSpin (a CEA laboratory). No need to go any further to be shocked: “training macaques” (meaning training and conditioning them so that they will stay still and be submissive) relies“solely” on“water control”, a (largely criticised) method that involves reducing animals’ access to water until they obey in the hope of getting a few drops.
The report also gives a glimpse into the lives of some of this small monkeys: Pitikos has a dried crust of blood on his head, Simio has lost a lot of weight without the staff being concerned, and Kimiko died from an infection that developed over several months in his cranial implant!
Yet, at the start of 2022, there were not even “any experimental procedures on NHPs [non-human primates]” on site. In other words, the laboratory did not have the right to use these animals in any experiments.
A string of offences: guilty of negligence and incompetence
The analysis of this initial inspection report was key in our decision-making: we had to know more about these macaques’ lives, discover if others had also been neglected, if it was possible to go even further to stop these practices that are not only terrible for the animals, but also clearly illegal. We have therefore asked for past official documents, and our exchanges with the administrative giant has restarted…
We have also learnt that the violations committed by this laboratory do not date back to yesterday. For ten years, they have been recurrent: cages that are too small, no infirmary, unsterilised materials, out-of-date medications, experiments without autorisation… Many macaques have been injured, or even killed, due to careless mistakes by staff or their inability to care for them correctly!
The responsible State
Despite these illegal practices, in March 2022, the Essonne Prefecture allowed NeuroSpin to continue its activities on primates for six more years. As a precaution or as a conscious act, the administration still banned the use of the aforementioned ‘water control’.
A far from reassuring situation, especially since this same service was also in charge of inspecting, badly apparently, the laboratory at the National Natural History Museum in Brunoy, which exploits mouse lemurs who we have been fighting for for years.
NeuroSpin primates’ fate in the hands of the tribunal
With each document obtained, new aberrations, never any sanctions… At our request to retract NeuroSpin’s authorisation, the Prefect’s response was to quite simply reject it, without at least giving an explanation! But we were not left impressed.
We also referred to the Versailles Administrative Tribunal in February to ask that the authorisation be retracted from this abusive laboratory, which would allow us to come to the aid of the animals who are kept and experimented on here. With the Géo Avocats law firm, we are waiting for the date of the hearing.
You can help by signing the petition to ask for NeuroSpin to be closed and the macaques to be placed in a suitable sanctuary.