Animal Activists Win Review of Proposed E.U. Rules

Prompted by complaints from animal rights lobbyists, the European Ombudsman will investigate a 2-year-old study by the European Commission into the use of chimpanzees for research purposes.

The study, released in 2008, helped shape proposed regulations that would govern animal research in the E.U. countries. To the disappointment of many animal rights activists, however, the proposal did not include a complete ban on the use of great apes in research. It did call for an end to scientific "procedures" on great apes, with exceptions for behavioral studies, research that could prevent the extinction of the species, or in response to outbreaks of human disease. There are no chimpanzees currently available for biomedical research in Europe.

The proposed regulations were approved by the European Parliament in 2009. But they need to be adopted by the European Council before they can take effect.