Why waste money on research that doesn't work?

The legislation ends invasive research on great apes, with timelines in line with recent IOM report findings. It retires chimpanzees to sanctuaries, reducing taxpayer burden, and codifies NIH’s self-imposed breeding moratorium that has been broken over a hundred times since its implementation.
 

ADVERTISEMENT
The blog author suggested that chimpanzees “may one day be needed” to confront an emerging disease. But last year experts from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Homeland Security at an IOM hearing panel titled “Potential Future Needs” testified how chimpanzees are too slow as research animals and how their use would prevent scientists from responding expeditiously to an outbreak of a highly infectious agent.
 
Remember, too, that 20-plus years of extensive HIV research in chimpanzees and other primates resulted in more than 85 HIV vaccines, but every single one failed in more than 200 human trials. One vaccine candidate appeared to increase the likelihood of infection in humans.
 
Lastly, the author of the contended blog makes a ludicrous claim that chimpanzees are better cared for in laboratories than in sanctuaries. In comparing the records of two of the nation’s largest chimpanzee research facilities versus the sanctuaries, the deception is exposed.
 
In December, the author’s own facility—the Texas Biomedical Research Institute—was fined more than $25,000 for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including one in which a nonhuman primate was killed after escaping his enclosure and freezing to death. Flouting the NIH breeding moratorium, 137 chimpanzees were born in Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center, which houses about 350 chimpanzees. Fourteen infant chimpanzees died by traumatic injury between 2000 and 2008. Currently, New Iberia is under investigation for an incident in which the decomposing bodies of three nonhuman primates were found “trapped in a metal chute.” In comparison, since 2007, the nation’s six leading chimpanzee sanctuaries have a total of just two minor violations—both for peeling paint.
 
I rest my case. It’s time to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act this year, and stop the continued white-coat waste of government funds.
 
Kucinich is director of government affairs for the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine