Monday, December 10, 2007
By Jackie Johnson
A watchdog group demands a federal probe of the UW Primate Center.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now -- SAEN -- claims the Wisconsin National
Primate Research Center is among the top nationally-known labs to
torture animals, a direct violation of federal law. The group's
Executive Director Michael Budkie wants the National Institutes of
Health to stop funding universities which participate in violations of
the Animal Welfare Act.
"It does not seem right to us that laboratories who are continually
violating federal law should have an ongoing access to federal funds. If
they break the law they should not get the funding."
Eric Sandgren with the UW Research Lab says the NIH already has the
power to limit or eliminate such funds.
"In fact they already have mechanisms in place to reduce or take back
funding if it is not in compliance with the animal care requirements.
So, that's an issue that's already been taken care of."
Budkie has contacted the USDA in the past, but says that agency is
almost powerless to do anything other than issue fines for violations,
which he says are considered by the universities to be nothing more than
a cost of doing business. Budkie is now demanding that the Inspector
General of the U-S Health Department investigate and audit the National
Primate Research Center System. Budkie says the amount of money going
into the area of animal research is "just insane."
"This kind of funding should be redirected into clinical research
that helps human beings that actually have real disease conditions now,
as opposed to doing nothing more than essentially making people that do
animal research wealthy."
Sandgren says the nature of biomedical research is very diverse. He
says currently, many studies involve animals, many involve cells and
culture dishes, and many make use of humans.
"What we, at the scientific community, have found is that we learn
the most when we apply a combination of those. What Mr. Budkie would
advocate is cutting out completely one of those and that will
tremendously limit the amount that we can learn."
Budkie says federal funding from primate research at the UW has risen
by 219% in just eight years, which is disproportionate to the increase
in its primate population, at just 24%. Budkie wonders whether that
money is "making the researchers wealthy." Sandgren says when they get
extra money it goes, in part, to safeguards for human and animal health,
and for providing animals with a more positive and enriching
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