In a victory for animals, the Canadian Transport Authority (CTA) has announced that it will uphold Air Canada’s decision to stop shipping primates who are destined for experimentation.
“This landmark ruling confirms the right of Air Canada to refuse shipment of primates to laboratories, which is an important stimulus for more human-relevant biomedical research as well as the replacement or reduction of animal use,” said Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for HSI/Canada. “We are very grateful to Air Canada for adopting such a progressive policy, and to the CTA for reinforcing Air Canada’s right to take a stand in favour of animal welfare and ethical science.”
The move was supported by a number of groups, including the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), Humane Society International/Canada, Animal Alliance of Canada and Justice for Animals.
Air Canada had previously refused to ship primates destined for research, but a 1998 ruling by the CTA forced the airline back into the monkey business. Animal Justice Canada advised the airline to change the wording of its cargo tariff in a manner that would allow it to revert back to its original policy.
Air Canada petitioned the agency last year to get out of the primate trade and stated that it was “a decision taken both to align our policies with those of many other major international carriers and in response to widespread public concern.”
According to the Toronto Star, a day before the new change was supposed to take effect, industry groups, including Queen’s University and the Public Health Agency of Canada, challenged the move arguing that it would negatively impact research.
Fortunately, the CTA dismissed the objections and issued a statement concluding that Air Canada’s decision to stop transporting non-human primates for research constitutes a “rational business decision” and that the move is not discriminatory.
The airline will be re-filing its amendment, which “will require shippers to sign a declaration that non-human primates are not destined for research or experiments.”
“We are delighted that the Canadian Transportation Authority has upheld the decision by Air Canada to discontinue its involvement in the cruel transportation of primates for research. Air Canada now joins the increasing number of airlines that have taken the decision to dissociate themselves from the cruelty and suffering that are intrinsic to this industry. This is an issue of strong public concern and it is only right that Air Canada should be allowed to respond to that concern,” said Michelle Thew, the BUAV’s Chief Executive.
Every year, thousands of primates are transported around the globe to meet the demand for research subjects. They’re kidnapped from the wild, separated from their family groups, caged and bred on the equivalent of factory farms before undergoing the trauma of international transport in the cargo hold of a plane. The ones who survive the journey continue on to research facilities where they’ll be used in unnecessary, unreliable and redundant experiments.
Thanks to public pressure and the work of animal advocacy groups, many airlines have changed their policies and no longer participate in the international trade of primates for research, and in some cases refuse to ship any species of animal destined for a lab.
Now, United/Continental is the last remaining major airline that ships primates to North America.
For more information about which airlines do and do not ship animals for research, visit the BUAV’s Cargo Cruelty campaign.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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