Plans for Primate Breeding Facility Stopped in Puerto Rico
This month the Puerto Rico senate voted unanimously to stop plans to build a facility that would house and breed macaques and export them to research facilities requesting that “the United States Department of Agriculture and the Fish and Wildlife Services deny any and all permit request by Bioculture Mauritus, any of its subsidiaries or Bioculture Puerto Rico, Inc., with the purpose of importing Macaca fascicularis into Puerto Rico.”
Bioculture, Ltd., a Mauritius-based company, had been working on plans to build a facility in Guayama, Puerto Rico and to to capture more than 4,000 monkeys from Mauritius, cage and breed them before shipping them off to be used in experiments by the pharmaceutical industry.
However, in 2009 primates got some hope when Guayama’s Superior Court ordered a temporary halt on the project as a result of a lawsuit filed on the grounds that Bioculture had “not submitted a full environmental impact statement or held public hearings,” along with filing inappropriate permits.
Last year, Puerto Rico’s Appeals Court ruled to let construction continue but the public and animal welfare groups kept the pressure on to stop Bioculture’s plans.
In addition to concerns about animal cruelty, other concerns were raised about the potential impact of monkeys in the event of an escape. “Such escapes could result in ecological damage in Puerto Rico, adding to the serious problems already caused by patas monkeys and rhesus monkeys who escaped from a laboratory,” according to PCRM.
Even more concerns were raised about air and water pollution from the facility affecting residents. In the past two years, Bioculture has been cited and fined in the U.S. by the Senate Environmental Committee for building on improperly zoned land and by the Protection Agency for violating the Clean Water Act.
While Bioculture may apply for permits elsewhere in Puerto Rico, they won’t be building in Guayama, and if the feelings about them from residents spreads, hopefully they’ll be continue to be denied.
Photo credit: Masashi Mochida via flickr