Home PR top court blocks monkey facility
Issued : Monday, December 12, 2011 02:15 PM
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PR top court blocks monkey facility

By CB Online Staff

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has blocked construction of a primate-breeding facility in Guayama.

Bioculture Puerto Rico Inc. had turned to the Supreme Court last month seeking to overturn a September ruling by the Appeals Court of Puerto Rico, which upheld a lower courtís decision to suspend the companyís construction permit.

In a 6-3 ruling, the top court determined the company has no standing to overturn the lower court rulings.

Bioculture attorneys argued the lower courts erred because the group of citizens challenging the validity of the permit suffered no concrete damage that allowed them to seek a court remedy.

They also said the courts wrongly added additional criteria for the permit that wasnít found in the Planning Boardís zoning regulations and also ignored established jurisprudence that gives deference to agencies in interpreting government regulations.

A group of Guayama residents and animal-rights activists took the project to court on humanitarian grounds and because they said it presented a threat to the surrounding community.

Bioculture officials have said they would run a state-of-the-art facility that would provide much-needed jobs in the community and help Puerto Rico develop into a center for world-class medical research. The company said the facility would play a key role in Puerto Ricoís quest to develop a knowledge-based economy.

The company, which also maintains facilities in Israel and Mauritius, planned to raise primates for local use and export.

One of the main economic-development goals of successive government administrations has been to reposition Puerto Rico from a manufacturing site to a more developed destination where the research & development (R&D) of new products can be undertaken as well.

Puerto Ricoís large number of pharmaceutical plants gives it an advantage as it seeks to develop increased R&D.

The local Manufacturers Association and Science, Research & Technology Trust had filed friend-of-the-court petitions with the Supreme Court in support of the bioculture motion and the project in Guayama.

The Economic Incentives for the Development of Puerto Act (Law 73), a bipartisan effort passed in 2008, lists research animal-breeding facilities as one of the activities the island will seek to establish to strengthen its attraction as an investment destination.

Earlier this year, the Legislature overturned a recently passed ban on animal testing, so medical research at certified facilities could be carried out under strict protocols.