Monthly Archives: February 2016

Which bank is taking a stand against experimenting on non-human primates?

Baby macaque. Source: Flickr/ Tambako The Jaguar

Baby macaque. Source: Flickr/ Tambako The Jaguar

It’s ING. This bank is not listed on the ASX; it has its head office in the Netherlands. But ING’s animal welfare policy might give ASX listed banks new ideas.

ING provides financing to the food industry, such as producers, traders, transport companies and companies that handle and process food products. The company has recently announced that it has broadened the range of activities involving animals that it won’t finance.

From clients in the animal husbandry sector, ING expects industry best practices as well as prove that animals are treated in line with the Five Freedoms. ING has also expanded the list of what they won’t finance. Their exclusion list includes now:

  • Animal testing for cosmetic purposes
  • Sponsoring requests for events with animals where the Five Animal Freedoms are not respected
  • Animal trade involving endangered species for commercial purposes
  • Use of endangered species or non-human primates for any testing/ experimental purposes
  • Support of any type of animal fights for entertainment
  • Operating fur farms
  • The trade and manufacturing of fur products
  • The development of genetic engineering or genetic modification on plants or animals for non-medical purposes.

(Source: ESR, page 3)

It’s not unusual for a bank in Europe to speak out against animal testing for cosmetics, which has been banned in the EU for some years. A testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 September 2004; the testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 March 2009.

However, it’s unusual to find a bank that won’t do business with companies or organisations that experiment on non-human primates with the expressed aim of advancing human health (whether this aim is achieved is a different issue). I call this leadership.

I do not know whether Australian banks do business with companies/organisations involved in experimentation on non-human primates. But I will try to find out. (Also, there will be a blog post soon about ASX listed banks and animal welfare policies in general. Stay tuned!)

Marmoset. Source: Flickr/ Frank Kehren

Marmoset. Source: Flickr/ Frank Kehren

As to experiments on non-human primates, they do occur in Australia. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funds three breeding colonies: one in New South Wales for baboons and two in Victoria for macaques and marmosets.

At a recent Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee hearing Anne Kelso, Chief Executive Officer of the NHMRC, reported that last year 36 non-human primates were used in research funded by the NHMRC. If additional primate research is undertaken by the pharma or biotech industry, such research would need to be licensed by the state bureaus of animal welfare. Information about these licenses is, depending on the state, difficult or impossible to obtain.

If the NHMRC funded research on non-human primates is the only such research occurring in Australia, a policy by a financial institution to not support such research would be without practical consequences. However, it would still make a statement that experiments on non-human primates are unacceptable.


Further reading

ING requests LEI to do research in reaction to the report of the Dutch NGO ‘Wakker Dier’

ING Environmental and Social Risk Framework (or go to this page and click on ESR)

Animal testing has saved tens of millions of lives

Bailey, J., Thew, M., & Balls, M. (2015). Predicting human drug toxicity and safety via animal tests: can any one species predict drug toxicity in any other, and do monkeys help? Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 43(6), 393-403.

Gordon, N., & Langley, G. (2008). Replacing primates in medical research. An expert report by: Dr Hadwen Trust, FRAME, St Andrew Animal Fund.