The Primate Experimentation Scandal:
The Primate Experimentation Scandal:
Executive SummaryPrimate experimentation is one of the most controversial issues facing our society. The reality of primate experimentation is difficult to define. The limitations of the reporting system currently utilized by the United States Department of Agriculture/Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service are manifold. It is difficult to substantiate a definitive number for primate experimental use due to inaccurate reporting (by facilities such as Harvard & Yale) and non-reporting by some labs (the number of facilities that have failed to report to the USDA/APHIS has varied between 22 and 128 each of last five years).
However, the best estimate puts total U.S. primate experimental use at 60,000 per year. As many as another 40,000 primates are held in laboratory/breeding facilities for the purpose of producing more primates for use in experimentation. The most commonly used species (based on NIH funding trends) of primates are macaque monkeys (69.3%), with baboons second (12.8%), squirrel monkeys third (7.0%), and chimpanzees fourth (4.2%). The NIH CRISP system also demonstrates that primate experiments have increased by 58% in the last ten years.
The estimated annual cost to the U.S. for primate experimentation is $657,960,000. The National Institutes of Health funds approximately $424,718,414 of this total with $245,378,191 being directed to the facilities that contain the eight Regional Primate Research Centers. The remainder of this funding is spent by agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, and private entities.
Despite what the public has been led to believe, the majority of primate experimentation does not involve research into the diseases that kill most Americans. Projects in areas like cancer research and heart disease are far outnumbered by experiments in cocaine and alcohol consumption, reproduction, and esoteric areas like neural information processing.
The reality of experimentation from the primate’s point of view is shocking. According to USDA statistics 13% of all primates in laboratories have no contact with members of their own species (isolation is so stressful for primates that 10% of isolated primates engage in self-destructive behavior). Despite supposed protection by federal regulations, primates are routinely subjected to practices that, if carried out any place but the laboratory, would land their perpetrator in jail. Primates are routinely confined to restraint chairs for as much as 104 consecutive hours. Food and water deprivation are routinely used to coerce participation in experimental procedures. Experimental apparatus is routinely bolted onto the skulls of many primates. Other devices are surgically attached to primates as well. These apparatus often lead to bacterial infections that can prove fatal.
In summary, the reality of primate experimentation is that over half a billion dollars is spent every year in the U.S. on experimentation of questionable value which is not designed to cure real diseases. Researchers routinely waste hundreds of millions of dollars on esoteric research that is of no interest to anyone but themselves. These experiments are carried out on severely stressed primates whose health is endangered by the very devices used to carry out the experiments. The results of these experiments serve no real purpose other than justifying further research grants, which funnel ever more funding into the investigators’ home facilities.
The American public has been hoodwinked by a pseudo-scientific establishment whose primary objective is self-perpetuation. The drive to cure diseases has been replaced by a thirst for grant money. Laboratory budgets have become far more important than scientific breakthroughs. The 60,000 primates which are experimented on every year in U.S. laboratories have become nothing more than grist for a mill which produces reams of meaningless papers predicated on the publish or perish mentality.
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