After news broke that KU Leuven bypassed the Flemish and European laws by experimenting on baboons in Kenya, a Flemish minister has voiced his opinion on the necessity of the choice.
“Sometimes animal testing is a necessary evil,” said Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare (N-VA).
Medical tests on baboons are not allowed in Belgium, which is why Belgian universities had their research for the infertility disease endometriosis carried out in Kenya, where no questions were asked.
“This is a loophole in the law that we must close,” said independent Flemish parliament member Hermes Sanctorum. “There is Flemish and European legislation, but researchers can bypass them by experimenting with Flemish government money far outside of the EU,” he added.
KU Leuven claimed that the research project had ended when the news broke. “Our ethics committee delivered a favourable opinion at the time,” their statement said.
According to Weyts, KU Leuven said that they had the tests carried out in the same way as they would in Flanders. “Investigators are now checking if that is really the case, if there really was no other option. However, animal lovers like myself must also recognize that animal testing is a necessary evil in the fight against diseases such as cancer,” Weyts explained. “In this case, it concerns research into uterine membrane inflammation, which may result in cancer. If there is no other way to research that, should we say no then?” he added.
KU Leuven did not react further to the incident. On Wednesday afternoon, about 50 activists from Animal Rights protested for over an hour at the rectorate of the university.
The Brussels Times