What kinds of Experiments are Performed on Primates?
Searches within the NIH CRISP system revealed some common areas of experimentation that utilize primates. These areas of experimentation were examined in macaque monkeys, and baboons, the two most commonly used species of primates (these statistics are contained in Appendix K). Taken together these two species account for 1171 (82%) of the total 1422 for all primate species. Therefore these two species will be used to exemplify the types of experimentation in which primates are utilized.
CRISP searches for macaque monkeys reveal 15 experiments that study heart disease, and 34 that study cancer. However, this same system contains 116 projects that study alcohol and addictive drugs in macaques, 58 that study neurobiology, and 158 that study neural information processing in macaques. Another 19 projects study macaque sex and an additional 10 examine reproduction in macaques. It appears that the NIH is more interested in getting primates drunk or stoned and showing them a good time, than in curing real diseases.
Similarly, baboons show up in only 6 projects examining the heart and examining cancer. However 12 baboon studies alcohol and drugs, 18 study stress, and 10 study behavior tests.
The CRISP system shows 1171 studies using macaques or baboons. Only 5% of these studies examine heart disease or cancer -- two key conditions that kill many humans every year. While 69% of these studies look at areas that do not directly correlate to diseases like behavior tests, memory, reproduction, sex, and learning. Clearly the main focus of primate research is NOT curing human disease.
Specific examples of experiments from several facilities are listed in Appendix L. These protocols provide details of what happens to primates during experimentation in U.S. labs. The use of food and water deprivation is common in primate experimentation as are confinement to restraint chairs, electric shock and other highly invasive procedures.
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