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PETA demands probe of 'cruel' experiment on monkeys in China

PETA demands probe of 'cruel' experiment on monkeys in China
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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is calling on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to launch an investigation into a "cruel" experiment on monkeys in China that the group says used federal funds.

In a letter sent to NIH this week, PETA alleged improper use of almost $6 million in government funds to conduct an experiment on monkeys at Chongqing Medical University. The advocacy group said the experiment violated two agency policies: the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, known as PHS Policy, and the National Institutes of Health Grants Policy Statement.

“[T]he use of NIH grant money to help fund the Chongqing monkey experiments appears to be a clear violation of both PHS Policy and the NIH Grants Policy Statement,” PETA wrote in its letter.

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The group also wrote to Wake Forest University requesting that the school conduct an investigation of one of its professors who was listed as a co-author of the resulting study.

PETA says the professor should reimburse NIH for any funds used in violation of agency guidelines.

“It is abundantly clear that Wake Forest University is responsible for U.S. tax dollars being used to fund cruel and pointless experiments on monkeys at an institution in China not authorized to use funds from the National Institutes of Health to carry out any experiments on animals,” PETA wrote in its letter to Wake Forest.

Wake Forest, in a response to The Hill, noted that none of its researchers carried out the experiment and the professor's "role in this study was strictly to consult and advise. There was no financial compensation or intellectual property concerns."

NIH did not respond to requests for comment.

The study in question involved an experiment to examine depression in monkeys, in hopes that the findings could help humans struggling with depression.

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The experiment consisted of putting monkeys in stressful situations for 55 days to see how they would react. According to the published study, the monkeys endured loud noises, water deprivation for half a day, no food for 24-hour periods, tight enclosures for hours at a time, as well as cold water sprayed on them for 10 straight minutes, exposure to strobe lights for 12 hours and foot shocks.

The allegations follow the indictment of a former professor at the University of Florida who is accused of concealing his ties to China to obtain an NIH grant and continue working in the U.S.

Animal rights activists in the U.S. have been pushing Congress and federal agencies to impose stricter requirements on what is permissible during experiments involving animals.

The paper says the experiment was approved by the Ethics Committee at Chongqing Medical University and that care was given to the monkeys each day after the experiments were over. PETA described the experiment as “torture.”

Updated on Feb. 12 at 6:42 p.m.