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"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

The Primate Experimentation Scandal, 2003
An Investigative Report
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.,
Executive Director, SAEN


The use of primates in experimentation is an extremely controversial issue. Some scientists claim that primate experimentation is crucial to medical advancement.1 Others claim that the use of primates has not contributed to advances in the diseases that are currently killing humans (i.e. heart disease, cancer, HIV, etc.) 2 While humans are more closely related to primates than to other species, primates may still be too dissimilar to be suitable subjects in studies of human diseases. Significant questions are being raised regarding the actual utility of primate experimentation.

Many people also have significant ethical concerns regarding the use of primates in experimentation. The confinement of primates for use in experimentation has significant consequences due to their social nature. And if primates are psychologically similar to human beings in their ability to suffer, then the use of primates in potentially painful/stressful projects should raise serious moral questions.

However, with the expansion of certain fields of investigation, experimentation on primates is likely to increase in coming years. Discussions are currently underway which could lead to an increase in the funding of the Primate Center System by $100 million per year.

Therefore, this is a particularly relevant time to be placing primate experimentation in general, and the larger primate labs in particular, under closer scrutiny. This report marks the launching of such an effort.

This report will discuss the level of funding given to primate experimentation on the national level. While the funding issue is being discussed, the closely related area of experimental duplication (and the potential waste of federal funding) will also be examined.

This document will also examine the conditions primates are subjected to within laboratories. While it is currently difficult to discuss the situation within all laboratories, certain specific labs will be examined regarding the way that primates are treated.

One basic area that has become difficult to discuss is the actual number of primates in laboratories. While the number of primates in labs has been released by the USDA in a more thorough way than ever before, the classification system used in releasing this information has made it impossible to compare current statistics with similar statistics from previous years. As a result, it will be impossible to discuss trends based on the cumulative statistics promulgated by the USDA. However, trends involving the use of primates in experimentation can still be discussed by utilizing a different methodology.

This report will utilize one primary source of information for the determination of trends for primate experimentation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) CRISP system, which catalogues all grants funded by this agency will be the primary basis for comparison. This measure of experimental direction is crucial because the NIH funds the majority of experimentation performed within the U.S. Supplemental data will be obtained from the DOD project database.

In summary, this report will provide invaluable information regarding the number of primates within labs, the types of experiments performed on primates, the number of projects using primates, the funding of primate experimentation on the national level, and the conditions within labs that use primates.


Expert Panel’s Recommendations for the Regional Primate Research Centers Program, January 18, 2001, Office of Science Policy and Public Liaison

Is Primate –Modeled Research Crucial, C. Ray Greek, in Pathways to Progress, available at http://www.curedisease.com/Pathways/PathwaysFall03.pdf

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The Primate Experimentation Scandal, 2003 - An Investigative Report

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