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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 10 December 2001 Issue

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) Complaint alleges abuse

By ROBERT STERN Staff Writer

Animal rights group claims Princeton mistreats primates

PRINCETON BOROUGH _ An animal-protection group wants to end what it says are abusive and inadequately documented experiments on primates at Princeton University and 49 other nationally recognized laboratories.

The Cincinnati-based organization, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN), has filed a complaint against the labs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates the use of animals in experimentation through the Animal Welfare Act.

SAEN alleges labs at Princeton and elsewhere abuse primates during experiments by denying food and water and confining them to restraint chairs or injecting them with paralytic drugs.

It also contends 47 of the labs in its complaint including Princeton have violated federal regulations that require USDA notification whenever primates are subject to potentially painful or stressful experiments without anesthesia.

"Fifty prestigious institutions are systematically violating federal laws and abusing thousands of animals in sadistic, wasteful testing,'' said Michael A. Budkie, SAEN's executive director.

SAEN submitted its complaint to the USDA during the summer.

The group contacted The Times earlier this month after getting no word from the agency on whether it began investigations against any of the labs cited, which include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Yale and UCLA.

SAEN says its complaint is based on an audit of experiment information from 1998 primarily available through the USDA.

The federal agency is reviewing SAEN's allegations but has not decided whether it will launch special investigations into any of the labs in the complaint, USDA spokeswoman Laura Reiser said Friday.

The continuing Princeton monkey experiments that have come under fire are brain-mapping studies conducted by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Charles Gross, according to SAEN Executive Director Michael Budkie.

"Brain-mapping experiments typically confine primates to restraint chairs for many hours,'' SAEN's complaint states.

The primates have recording cylinders and restraining bars "bolted into their skulls during extensive multiple surgical procedures,'' according to SAEN.

"Another aspect of this type of experimentation is the frequent restriction of access to water,'' the group alleges.

Gross did not return The Times' requests for comment.

Princeton spokeswoman Lauren Robinson-Brown said SAEN's "complaint against Princeton is without merit.''

She said USDA inspectors visit Princeton regularly to ensure that any research on animals conducted there complies with federal regulations.

Some of the experiments SAEN examined have been going on for 10 years or more, too often subjecting monkeys to stress and pain in research that is needlessly duplicated from institution to institution, Budkie said.

"We believe that these 50 labs may only be the tip of the iceberg,'' Budkie said. "More than 100,000 primates suffer and die in U.S. labs every year, wasting millions of tax dollars.  These findings are only the beginning of our investigations.''

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