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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

The Reality of Primate Experimentation in the United States:
Lies, Greed, and Insanity

By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.

Summary

It is clear from government documentation that the use of non-human primates in experimentation is an area that is not effectively regulated. The basic needs of primates are not met, even in terms of food and water. Labs including: Yale, the University of Chicago, University of Alabama, Pennsylvania State University, Harvard, Catholic Healthcare (AZ), Brown University, University of California (Berkeley), the Salk Institute, Stanford, the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, University of Connecticut, University of Miami, MIT, University of Minnesota, the University of Texas (Austin), University of California (Davis), Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts General Hospital, Wake Forest, Washington University, University of Houston, Emory University, Columbia University, Oregon Health Sciences University, the University of Washington, University of California (San Francisco), Duke University, Princeton University, Cornell University (NY) are all listed in government records as depriving non-human primates of food and/or water and this list is nowhere close to all inclusive.

Additionally, many laboratories have committed violations of federal law that have either taken the lives of primates or caused serious injuries including: University of Wisconsin, Madison; the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (San Antonio, TX), Alpha Genesis (SC), University of Texas (San Antonio), Emory University, Franklin & Marshall University, the SNBL facility (Everett, WA), Charles River Laboratories (Reno, NV); the Smith-Kettlewell Institute (San Francisco, CA), and Vanderbilt University. Again, the information available from the USDA is often incomplete. To our knowledge only one of these facilities suffered any meaningful consequences.

The National Eye Institute currently funds 75 grants that investigate the processing of visual stimuli in the brains of macaque monkeys. The protocols for many of these experiments are virtually identical, elucidating an area of serious waste and redundancy. Similar areas exist in other fields of primate experimentation. Research facilities have a major vested interest in promoting the highest possible number of research projects to be funded as they receive substantial amounts of funding in indirect costs for each and every grant that their staff produces.

The psychological stability of many primates held in laboratories is open to serious question due to information both from federal inspection reports and from internal health records for primates at laboratories such as the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, and the Medical College of Virginia (part of Virginia Commonwealth University). The sterile and simplistic nature of laboratory housing of non-human primates is designed primarily for ease of cleaning, and does virtually nothing to accommodate their psychological sophistication, often resulting in stereotypical behavior, self-injurious behavior, and even madness.

Information made available to the general public by the USDA, the federal agency responsible for regulating the use of animals in laboratories promulgates deceptive information regarding the use of non-human primates in labs. An examination of the number of primates actually confined inside a set of laboratories utilizing a substantial portion (app 1/3) of the national total (62,315 an all-time high) of primates used in experimentation illustrates that these facilities confined 135% more primates than the USDA reported, due to the fact that the USDA does not report primates that are kept for later use or housed for breeding purposes.

The reporting of unrelieved pain in primate experimentation is no more accurate. Projects that actually state that the primates will experience pain are not reported as such, and other highly invasive experiments utilizing procedures which have been deemed by veterinary and scientific experts to cause unrelieved pain and/or distress are not reported in this way. Lastly, while some labs do report specific procedures as causing unrelieved pain/distress (i.e. those involving precipitated drug withdrawal) other labs using similar procedures do not report them in this way. The bottom line is that, again, the total number of primates experiencing unrelieved pain/distress is much higher than the USDA reports. This situation exists because labs apparently attempt to avoid reporting projects in this way and the USDA does not act forcefully to ensure that this regulation is followed.

In the past correspondence/complaints to the USDA have primarily fallen on deaf ears. Reporting has not changed, and if anything enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act has declined because as is exemplified in this report, meaningful enforcement actions regarding significant violations typically do not take place. In fact, the best information available is that regarding all of the information contained in this report regarding Animal Welfare Act violations, only one incident received any monetary penalty.

The bottom line is that the system is broken. Duplication is rampant; violations go unpunished and largely unpublicized unless an NGO steps in. The public is kept in the dark about the overall situation, while laboratories continue to proclaim their innocence in the face of documented violations talking about the need for humane care of animals in labs, while they die of negligence.

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