GER: Ethics committees have no discretion to perform ethical evaluation
The five year legal battle about the neurobiological experiments on macaques in the group of Prof. Kreiter in Bremen ended in January with a final ruling of the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. This confirmed a prior ruling by the Higher Administrative Court of Bremen that declared the experiments on macaques to be permissible and did not allow an appeal. The experiments involve the measurement of brain activity via electrodes inserted into the brain of the macaques, their fixation on a “primate chair” and their being tasked to respond to signals for which they are rewarded with drinking water.
Although the ruling only applied to the experiments performed between 2008 and 2011 and a further law suit about the experiments performed until 2014 is still active, the January ruling indicates that this will also be ruled in Kreiter’s favor: The justification of the ruling stated that, based on the former and current German Animal Protection Law, the animal protection authority of Bremen, which had refused to renew permission for the macaque experiments in 2008, had no discretion to evaluate the severity of the animal experiment itself or to weigh the severity of the experiment against the importance of the research proposal. Thus it had no basis to refuse permission for the experiments to be performed as all formalities were fulfilled.
This decision led to the German Animal Welfare Federation (Deutscher Tierschutzbund) calling upon its representatives in all ethics committees to resign from these and calling on the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture to initiate a reform of the Animal Protection Law, see also Comment by Ruhdel et al., p. 219
Federal Administrative Court ruling: http://www.bverwg.de/ 200114B3B29.13.0
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