Doctors Denounce Transfer of 100 “Retired” Chimpanzees to Texas Laboratory
National Institutes of Health Retires 110 Chimpanzees From Experiments: 10 Will Go to Sanctuary, 100 to Controversial Lab
WASHINGTON—The National Institutes of Health just announced that it is making 110 of its 563 chimpanzees ineligible for research. One hundred are scheduled to be moved to Texas Biomed, a laboratory in San Antonio, Texas, that was fined more than $25,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the Animal Welfare Act, according to the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The other 10 chimpanzees will go to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary.
“All 110 chimpanzees the NIH says it is retiring should be truly retired, and that means sending them to sanctuaries,” said John Pippin, M.D., PCRM’s director of academic affairs. “Making the chimpanzees ineligible for experimentation is an excellent start, but it makes no sense to send 100 of them to a controversial research lab.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also moving away from chimpanzee experiments. The agency said it no longer conducts chimpanzee experiments, according to a letter the agency wrote to PCRM.
“Consistent with the findings of the IOM panel, CDC no longer conducts chimpanzee research,” wrote Tanja Popovic, M.D., Ph.D., CDC deputy associate director for science, to Dr. Pippin.
Last year, an Institute of Medicine committee charged with examining the necessity of chimpanzee experimentation could not find a single area of health research for which the animals are essential. At its first hearing, Dr. Pippin was asked by the Institute of Medicine panel to testify on the use of human cells and other high-tech alternatives to replace chimpanzees in medical research.
Congress is also considering protections for chimpanzees. The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act now has the bipartisan support of more than 190 members of Congress and would end invasive and harmful experiments on chimpanzees, permanently end breeding of chimpanzees for invasive research, and release federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries.
This summer, the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, marking the first time any version of the legislation received a committee’s explicit approval.
Ending chimpanzee experiments will save a quarter of a billion taxpayer dollars over the next decade. The United States is the last country in the world that permits large-scale confinement of chimpanzees in laboratories and their use in invasive research.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.