Mar 2012

Critique of chimpanzee experimentation published

On December 15, 2011, the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity. The report concluded that most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is not warranted, but stopped short of recommending an outright ban. The scientific journal ALTEX has just published my analysis of that position. I concluded that alternatives exist for the few current research fields for which the IOM committee felt chimpanzee research might possibly be necessary, and that in any case, the adverse welfare impacts on chimpanzees subjected to invasive research — which appeared to receive little consideration — render such research unethical.

NIH Director Francis Collins accepted the committee’s recommendations, ceasing all funding for new chimpanzee experimentation. The NIH will also review current research to determine which experiments should be stopped. Dr Collins estimated that about 37 research projects might be affected, of which perhaps half could be discontinued.