Minister of Information, Senator Nigel Carty said in a post Cabinet briefing this week, “The monkeys, while presenting a threat to the development of crop farming, are used for biomedical research at two facilities on the island.”
Carty disclosed that a recent survey of the monkey population estimates that there are about 18,000 monkeys in St. Kitts although it is popularly believed that the population is much larger.
Noting that these establishments have experienced some challenges with respect to the use of the monkeys for research and the shipment of live monkeys overseas for the same purpose, he said an animal welfare group has been active in the international media in denouncing the trade of monkeys from St. Kitts and their use in biomedical research.
“The primate research facilities on St. Kitts are important to us for a number of reasons. At one facility, there are about 42 full-time employees earning above-average incomes and supporting their families of a total of about 207 persons. Various employees at the foundation have over the years received scholarships for higher education in the United States. Other benefits such as health insurance have been extended to the employees and their families,” said the Information Minister.
He said the Minister of Agriculture, while presenting on the subject matter to the Cabinet at its first meeting for the year on Monday,9th January, 2012, he intimated that it must be acknowledged that there will always be a vocal animal rights movement that will object to any application of primates for biomedical research to promote human health, but that the advance of modern medicine has been built on the prudent, humane use of this important biological resource with which St. Kitts and Nevis is richly blessed.