USDA warns Penn State College of Medicine after research monkey dies

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USDA warns Penn State College of Medicine after research monkey dies

By Diana Fishlock, The Patriot-News, Friday, June 29, 2012

An animal rights organization is calling for a more severe penalty after a monkey used in an experiment died at Penn State College of Medicine.
The Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now said the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture was too lenient when it sent Penn State a warning on May 1. The warning was released to the public this week.
A macaque being used in Parkinson’s disease research allegedly died Dec. 24, 2010, from incorrect care provided by an improperly trained research assistant, said David Sacks, a spokesman for the Animal and Plant Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Neither the USDA nor the college would provide specifics Friday on how or why the animal died.
The medical school reported the monkey’s death to the USDA, Sacks said.
SAEN Executive Director Michael A. Budkie said:  “At the very least, Penn State should have been fined for killing a macaque monkey. This official warning is nothing more than a slap on the wrist and effectively tells ... labs that they will not be penalized even when their negligence kills an animal.”
A facility that shows a pattern of negligence is more likely to receive penalties, Sacks said.
Penn State Hershey spokeswoman Megan Walde Manlove said the unexpected death of the monkey prompted an immediate halt to the project and an internal investigation. Penn State implemented USDA-required corrections.
Manlove also said the college studied the primate research program and determined it was not feasible to continue making the investment of resources and infrastructure to maintain it. The program has been discontinued.
“The College of Medicine maintains a strong commitment to treating research animals in a humane and ethical way to the benefit of humans and animals in the treatment and cure of disease,” Manlove said.
She noted the school’s status as a laboratory that has been voluntarily accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. The association holds organizations to higher standards than those required by federal law.
Federal inspectors in March 2011 found violations, including that a monkey being used in a Penn State experiment had died in December 2010.

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