The Abuse of Non-human Primates in Federally Regulated Laboratories - October 2011:

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The Abuse of Non-human Primates in Federally Regulated Laboratories - October 2011:

The data discussed in this report clearly demonstrates that non-human primates are not adequately protected from abuse within U.S. laboratories. Within approximately one year ten U.S. labs (University of Washington (Seattle), McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, University of Massachusetts, MPI Research, Vanderbilt University, University of Louisiana, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Cornell University, and the Southern Research Institute) were either fined, warned or cited for incidents that involved violations of the Animal Welfare Act which killed a total of 16 non-human primates. Others were cited for basic violations such as depriving primates of either food or water. These abuses were considered to be violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Many other primates suffer from abusive situations that are allowed by the AWA due to the practice of allowing Institutional Animal Care & Use Committees (IACUC) to self-approve “exceptions to standard care.” The practice of allowing these exceptions promotes practices such as depriving primates of contact with members of their own species, depriving primates of water/food for extended periods, use of severe confinement techniques, allowing cages to go for weeks without cleaning, or even use of anesthesia in potentially painful procedures. As much 43% of all primates used in experimentation are exempted from at least one part of the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

The bottom line is that even in facilities that follow the law, as many as 43% of the primates used in experimentation are exempted from real protection under the law. As long as an animal care committee will approve a procedure anything goes. And IACUCs are typically composed almost entirely of people employed by the facilities who profit from performing primate experimentation.

Whistleblowers have provided insight into several well-known U.S. labs. They have often described previously unknown AWA violations. Even when the conditions that they describe are not illegal, they are clearly not conditions that support natural behaviors for non-human primates.

These statements are supported by photographs. Enclosures vary from concrete rooms with steel bars for perches to small stainless steel box like cages. In the laboratory setting primates are often deprived of social interaction, and see nothing that resembles their natural environment (trees, sunlight, fresh air, etc.). The meager attempts at psychological enrichment are momentary distractions at best. No species of non-human primate is evolutionarily suited to living in steel cages with only a few square feet of space or concrete rooms with steel perches.

With the annual cost for primate experimentation estimated to be roughly $1.9 billion in federal funding, we must begin to wonder what we are getting for this money. If the labs who receive this money are incapable of following even the most basic husbandry and care requirements, or simply self-exempt animals from regulations, why should we believe that these same labs are capable of science? If malnutrition, bacterial infections, cage washers, water deprivation, suffocation, traumatic injuries from mishandling, etc. are allowed to kill primates due to negligence, why should we believe that research protocols are followed? Why should we accept scientific conclusions from labs who negligently allow starvation to kill animals, or who lose track of primates, to find them only when their rotting corpses have begun to smell.

At a time when we cannot provide adequate healthcare to millions, why are we providing $1.9 billion in federal funding to labs that can’t follow basic laws? Isn’t it time to redirect this mountain of money into clinical research which will provide knowledge that is directly relevant to humans?

Downloadable PDF of the complete report

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