Victory for LAV! The State Council suspends the experiment that should turn 6 macaques blind

The Italian State Council (Consiglio di Stato, the supreme court for administrative law in Italy), backing LAV’s complaint, has overturned a precedent judgement from the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio, ruling to stop the famous experiment that the universities of Turin and Parma are conducting over 6 macaques, that should be turned blind (and then euthanized) to research on a specific vision disorder, named “blind sight”. According to the State Council, the Ministry of Health has not been able to prove that there were no scientific research alternatives to invasive operations on the brain of the macaques. According to the judges, researchers have the duty to prove that the sufferance their experiments might cause to animals is unavoidable, since their “use” for scientific purposes is the only possible way to conduct the research; the very same duty rests on the Ministry of Health, that authorizes such researches.

Comparing different rights and interests (animal rights and science/research freedom), the State Council has decided that animal protection and safeguard is prevailing. The Court also condemned the Ministry and the Universities to refund LAV 3.000 euros for legal fees. 

Just a few days before the judicial hearing, the Ministry took an inspection to the University of Parma’s laboratories to show that the conditions of the macaques were optimal; nevertheless, the reports of such inspection clearly appeared to be incomplete and full of gaps, not taking into consideration many relaying parameters regarding animal wellness such as light, rumor, physical exercise, forage, handling and cognitive activities adequate to the species.
 
This judgment represents a real breakthrough to the barriers raised around this project to hide its lack of prerequisites and inconsistencies.
Now LAV, that from the past summer is running a campaign named #civediamoliberi, with a petition signed by some 425.300 people (www.change.org/p/roberto-speranza-salviamo-i-macachi-di-torino), calls to the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, asking him to revoke the authorizations to the experiment and to set the macaques free; these animals have been captured in the wilderness, brought to China and, from there, sent to Europe, forced to live in cages to run an experiment already conducted in the past with no benefit for patients.
 
Furthermore, a few days ago the European Commission, answering a question about “Horizon 2020” funds and the Directive on the protection of animals, has stated that scientific projects such this one can be funded only in the base of existing national authorizations; which is not the case for the University of Turin.

“We want to celebrate this fantastic result with the hundreds of thousands people that have signed the petition to defend the macaques, and peacefully protested with us in the streets of Turin, Parma and Rome; this legal victory, in such a long battle, is essential to stop the experiment now, preventing the animals from intrusive operations”, Gianluca Felicetti, President of LAV, commented.