German University Mulls Legal Action to Keep Primate Research | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 17.10.2008
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German University Mulls Legal Action to Keep Primate Research

A neurobiology institute at the University of Bremen faces closure after a state decision to end support for its experiments with primates. The university is considering taking the case to the highest court in Germany.

A chimpanzee undergoes an intelligence test

The use of primates in the research of cognitive responses is a controversial topic

Bremen University is considering taking its case against the prohibition of neurological research using primates to the Federal Constitutional Court after the state's senator for health rejected the Institute for Cognitive Research's application for a ten-year extension of its project on ethical grounds.

The university's rector Wilfried Mueller told reporters on Thursday, Oct. 16, that the refusal of Social Democrat Ingelore Rosenkoetter to extend the research program under neurobiologist Andreas Kreiter was "politically motivated interference into the fundamental right and liberty of science and research" and said that the situation could lead to emergency legal steps by the Institute.

University argues against political interference

Demonstrators carry a banner with three apes on it in Bremen

Scientists say the state has not made an informed decision

Mueller argued that the state authority did not have the right to evaluate the program on ethical grounds but only on its practical plausibility. He also added that the decision was not based on the effect and purpose of the experiments in relation to the associated experiences of the animals and their rights.

Kreiter's experiments have been approved on a regular basis since 1997 despite protests whenever the program's approval comes up for consideration. The neurologist has also been threatened by animal rights activists, according to reports from the Bremen police department.

The university is looking to obtain a provisional order from the Constitutional Court so that the research can continue in the meantime until a final decision is made.

The current mandate for the Institute for Cognitive Research ends in November.

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