An American pro-animal testing group claims several major airlines are 'discriminating' against animal researchers for refusing to transport animals to laboratories.
Airlines including British Airways, United Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Qatar Airways all have policies in place against taking animals including to monkeys to be experimented on, citing ethical reasons.
But the National Association of Biomedical Research (NABR) has submitted a formal complaint to the US Department of Transport saying it is unlawful not to fly animals for use in testing while transporting the same animals for different reasons.
Kirk Leech, the Executive Director of the European Animal Research Association (EARA), commented on NABR's complaint, saying: "Without the ability to move research models from one country to another, or from breeder to research institution, crucial scientific research seeking new treatments could come to a halt.
"It takes a long time to breed these animals, and if their transport is stopped then researchers will have to recreate breeding colonies, requiring the unnecessary use of many more animals over successive generations."
Now campaigners are calling on these transport companies to 'stand firm' in these policies - despite pressure from pro-testing pressure groups.
"Airlines have the right to decide what or who they transport, and they should not be pressured by the animal-research industry or governments to act a certain way," said Michelle Thew, CEO of Cruelty Free International, which has persuaded many of the world's major airlines to stop transporting primates and other animals destined for research.
"It should be based on what’s best for the business, which includes respecting the animal-welfare wishes of its customers."