An out-of-court settlement has been reached on a lawsuit filed in January against the planned improvement and expansion of the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis.
The lawsuit, brought by the Animal Protection Institute and In Defense of Animals, both based in Northern California, challenged the environmental impact report that was prepared for the planned improvements at the center.
The settlement does not involve any monetary payments to either group. It does, however, specify that certain actions aimed at reducing the demand for use of animals in research be taken by the primate center. And it sets forth the procedures to be followed for placement of animals that are no longer used in breeding and research.
"The sequencing of the human genome and the effort to develop an AIDS vaccine have created an unprecedented demand for research in primates," said Jeff Roberts, assistant director of the primate center.
"This agreement establishes programs that will hopefully reduce future demand by developing non-invasive methods to conduct research in animals and by improving research technology and methods to reduce the overall numbers of animals used in human health research."
The settlement agreement stipulates that the primate center will:
- For the next two academic years, starting in fall 2002, allocate $75,000 annually to acquire imaging technology to be used for non-invasive research;
- By August 2002 designate a current staff position or create a new position that is assigned to spend 25 percent of its time serving as a liaison between the primate center and the UC Center for Animal Alternatives, housed in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine;
- For three years, starting in the upcoming academic year, work with the UC Center for Animal Alternatives to plan and organize a scientific research meeting focused on research methods that promote alternatives to the use of animals in research; and
- Establish a program for placing animals that are no longer being used in the primate center's research or breeding programs either with accredited zoos or registered U.S. Department of Agriculture retirement facilities.
The schedule for the proposed expansion and improvements at the center was not affected by the lawsuit. Construction of new field corrals and storm drainage improvements are expected to start later this summer.
The expansion will increase the number of monkeys housed at the center from 3,800 to about 5,000. It will include construction of new monkey field corrals and smaller outdoor enclosures, a research office building and trailer, a rodent facility for the campus's Center for Comparative Medicine, and storm-water drainage improvements for the entire facility.
The primate center is one of eight national primate centers supported by the National Institutes of Health. Its mission is to conduct research in selected areas related to human health. To support that program, the center maintains a large breeding program.
The primate center provides monkeys, mostly rhesus macaques, to research programs at seven UC campuses as well as other research institutions nationwide. Those programs include studies of cancer, asthma, AIDS, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and infant development and nutrition.