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

The Defender
Vol. 1, No. 2 - Fall/Winter 2002

The Primate Center System – Suffering, Death, and Deceit

The National Primate Research Center system is comprised of eight laboratories that as a whole cause the suffering and death of tens of thousands of primates every year. These eight laboratories are affiliated with these research facilities: Harvard, Oregon Health Sciences University, Tulane, University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Washington (Seattle), Emory University, University of California (Davis), and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

These facilities are required to file annual reports with two federal agencies – the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Animal Welfare Act requires all active research facilities to file reports with the USDA, and all grant recipients are required to file annual progress reports with the NIH.

These reports have several things in common. One requirement is that the number of animals used by the Primate Centers is reported to both agencies. The USDA report can include animals used in experimentation that is part of the facility (i.e. the University of Washington) that may not be a part of the Primate Center. So, the USDA report can have totals larger than the NIH report, because the USDA report may cover labs that are not part of the Primate Center. However, every primate used in one of the Primate Centers must be reported to the USDA.

When these reports are compared, several things become apparent. The most obvious fact is that the numbers don’t match. In the case of Tulane, Emory, the University of California, and the University of Wisconsin, the USDA numbers are larger, or the same, so we cannot say that anything is amiss there. However, Harvard, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research have all reported more primates to the NIH than they have to the USDA. It appears that these facilities have all violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by inaccurately reporting their primate use to the USDA or the NIH.

Specific examples of these discrepancies (see tables on opposite page) abound within these laboratories. Harvard (see The Defender Volume 1, Issue 1) has already been shown to have misreported their primate use in 1998. Harvard reported the use of 2054 primates to the USDA in 1999 and 2119 in 2000. However, this same laboratory reported 2337 primates to the NIH in 1999 and 2826 in 2000. It appears that the folks within the primate labs at Harvard still need some help with their mathematics.

Several of the other Primate Centers fared no better. The Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) reported 2914 primates to the NIH in 1998, while reporting 2359 to the USDA (a difference of 555). OHSU reported 3437 primates to the NIH in 2000, but reported 2119 to the USDA (a discrepancy of 1318). The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SWFBR) reported 4201 primates to the USDA in 1999 while reporting 4806 to the NIH (a difference of 605). In 2000 the SWFBR reported 4693 primates to the USDA, but they reported 4777 to the NIH (a discrepancy of 84).

The University of Washington, Seattle has done no better. For the three-year period from 1998 – 2000 the UW reported 1228, 3075, and 1122 to the USDA (totaling 5425). For the same years the UW reported 2324, 2632, and 2541 (totaling 7497) to the NIH, for a difference of 2072.

Another requirement of the AWA is that any instance of experimentation that subjects an animal to pain or distress without anesthesia be reported as such, and the reason for performing the experiment without anesthesia, tranquilizers, etc. is explained.

In a three-year period, these eight labs have reported confining and/or experimenting on over 81,000 primates. Many of these experiments involve: addictive drugs, the use of primate restraint chairs, the placement of electrodes directly into the brain of primates, self-injurious behavior, and other procedures that would cause any primate substantial pain or distress.

However, despite subjecting potentially hundreds or even thousands of primates to these highly stressful and painful experiments and procedures, only twenty (20) out of over 81,000 primates have been reported as experiencing unrelieved pain or distress. Inaccurate or dishonest reporting would be another violation of the AWA.

Our investigation of the primate centers is a daunting task. Our staff is combing through mountains of documentation and analyzing data regarding these huge laboratories. We will continue our investigations until the whole truth comes to light. And when we have totally fleshed out our case, we will take decisive action to insure that these laboratories are prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows.

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