Forty Years of Fraud:
Forty Years of Fraud:
The system of Regional Primate Research Centers has been in existence for approximately 40 years. In that time these laboratories have developed a reputation for questionable (at best) animal care and the performance of highly invasive experiments with often-fatal results. Whistleblowers that reveal abusive conditions have become common, as have investigations by the USDA. Official warnings from the USDA and even fines have occurred. The public is aware of many of these issues. However, there are many aspects of the Primate Center System that have remained hidden from the public.
During fiscal 1999 the eight facilities that comprise the Primate Center System consumed $245,378,191 in federal grants. The facilities experimented on/housed 25,094 primates. Despite the fact that these facilities have existed for four decades, they have failed to fulfill their purpose. The colonies associated with the Primate Centers have non-experimental death rates as high as 14.6%. Experimental death rates are as high as 18.6%. Infant mortality rates have reached a peak of 56%, with 23 – 30% not being uncommon. One facility even has a severe problem with cannibalism taking place in almost 17% of the infants that die.
Pathological conditions afflicting the animals within the Primate Centers include hepatitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, peritonitis, and enteritis (to mention only a few). There is also significant evidence that the primates within at least one of the facilities are suffering from severe stress as evidenced by the fact that 1/3 of the adult primates that died of natural causes were suffering from gastro-intestinal tract pathologies.
Since each of the Primate Centers receive tens of millions of dollars for primate projects an examination of the grant distribution patterns within the primate centers was performed. It appears that duplication is rampant with the Primate Centers, as well as between these labs and other facilities. However, the Primate Centers themselves are the home of a unique type of duplication. Each of the large umbrella grants that is the funding base for the Primate Centers is divided up into many smaller sub-grants. It is very common for a specific researcher to have a project funded as an independent grant and to have the very same project then be re-funded as a sub-grant of the Primate Center umbrella grant. Therefore, the Primate Centers are the home of a unique style of research fraud where U.S. taxpayers fund many projects doubly.
One of the many functions performed by the Primate Centers is the sale/transfer of Center-bred animals to other labs. This type of sale requires (by the Animal Welfare Act) that the facility selling the animal be licensed with the USDA as an animal dealer. However, only three of the eight Primate Centers are listed as having current licensing with the USDA, and then only as class B dealers. Therefore, five (or possibly all eight) of the Primate Centers may be breaking the law every time they transfer an animal.
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