Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Stop using chimps as guinea pigs"

In the world of animal experimentation, what could be more welcome than the animal experimenter who changes his mind? Not only that, but is now taking action to stop further “research” like the kind he was once involved with.

In the August 10 NYTimes, columnist Roscoe G. Bartlett writes about how before he was elected to Congress, he was a physiologist at the Navy’s School of Aviation Medicine, where the devices they invented were tested on primates.

First, he says, he thought the research was worth the pain inflicted on animals. Then he became aware of “its effects on primates, as well as alternatives to it.”

Now, “I no longer believe such experiments make sense — scientifically, financially or ethically,” he says.

He mentions a number of research techniques not involving animals that are cheaper faster and more effective, also pointing out that “Ending chimpanzee research and retiring the animals to sanctuaries would save taxpayers about $30 million a year.”

Bartlett cites cases of primates who have made it clear to their handlers/scientists/captors – take your choice of terms – that they don’t like their lives and want out of experimentation. “There is no question that chimpanzees experience pain, stress and social isolation in ways strikingly similar to the way humans do,” he notes.

For these reasons, Representative Bartlett (Republican of Maryland) is co-sponsoring the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act with Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington. The bill would phase out invasive research on great apes and retire the 500 federally owned chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuaries.

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