Mace writes to Fauci about 'Monkey Island'

Rep. Nancy MaceNancy MaceProtecting seniors from guardianship fraud and abuse House Democratic conference postponed due to COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (R-S.C.) wrote a letter addressed to Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion A newspaper crosses an uncrossable line to 'punish' a class of Americans Bill Maher pushes back on Fauci: 'Don't sit there in your white coat and tell me "just do what we say"' MORE regarding monkeys allegedly being kept on an island in South Carolina and later used for testing experiments by the institute he directs.

Mace claimed in her letter that “according to federal documents and media reports, over 3,500 monkeys currently live on Morgan Island and up to 600 each year are removed from the island for use in cruel taxpayer-funded experiments by [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases].”

She alleged that the experiments "involve infecting the primaries with debilitating and painful diseases and withholding pain relief.” 

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She requested that NIAID provide an explanation of its involvement in “operating and maintaining Morgan Island” and provide the Republican lawmaker with the number of monkeys that have been transported from the South Carolina island to its labs since Jan. 1.

Later during a Wednesday appearance at a "Regulating Cannabis" virtual event hosted by The Hill, Mace said she would be visiting the island in the next few weeks to investigate the matter.
 
"I will be going down to Monkey Island in a few weeks to bring light and attention to this issue. This is an issue like cannabis that I believe can bring Republicans and Democrats together. And I have to tell you, our country needs that kind of partnership and working together now, more than ever," she said during the virtual event.
 
Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project — a group opposed to taxpayer-funded animal testing which first circulated allegations of the NIAID's involvement on the island — said in a statement that they applauded's Mace's letter to Fauci. He called the island "a real-life nightmare for taxpayers and primates."

The Hill has reached out to NIAID regarding Mace’s letter.

Mace’s letter comes as conservatives and some Democrats have intensely scrutinized NIAID and Fauci for the institute’s involvement in animal studies, some of which has been riddled with misinformation.

Misinformation over NIAID’s alleged involvement in and funding of a beagle-trapping study was amplified earlier this year, The Washington Post reported. The agency has dealt with claims and angry calls that it funded a study that entailed trapping beagles in diseased sand fly cages. 

The Post noted that the claim of the agency’s funding of that study is false. 

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The newspaper noted that the scientific journal that posted the research issued a correction after scientists involved in the research mistakenly included that NIAID was a funder for the study.

However, the Post noted that NIAID has provided funding for other animal-involved research. The agency told the newspaper that in an ongoing study, 12 dogs were given a vaccine for the parasitic disease leishmaniasis and then placed in an open-space area with fencing for scientists to monitor.

Another study funded by NIAID euthanized over 40 dogs after they received a HIV/AIDs medication. Scientists aimed to look for possible toxic effects in their tissues, according to the Post. 

While Fauci said earlier this week that the lies and misinformation swirling around him are “noise,” he noted that he was worried about the damage that false and misleading information could have on science.

He noted that when people “get up and criticize science, nobody's going to know what they're talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people could recognize there's a person there. There's a face. There's a voice you can recognize. You see him on television.”

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“So it's easy to criticize, but they're really criticizing science because I represent science. That's dangerous. To me, that's more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me,” he continued. “I'm not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society long after I leave.

"And that's what I worry about.”

—Updated Thursday at 11:49 a.m.