Skip to content

Demand a Meaningful Hearing on the Ethics of Using Nonhuman Primates for Experiments

Demand a Meaningful Hearing on the Ethics of Using Nonhuman Primates for Experiments

 

Name: Demand a Meaningful Forum on Ethics of Nonhuman Primate Experiments

In December 2014, four U.S. Representatives wrote to Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), expressing concern over the use of nonhuman primates in NIH and NIH-funded laboratories. Reps. Roybal-Allard (CA), Titus (NV), Engel (NY) and Farr (CA) asked that the NIH commission “a Bioethics Consultation of these experiments by the NIH’s Department of Bioethics...”

In 2015, the 2016 appropriations bill for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, which funds the NIH, included language directing NIH to “conduct a review of its ethical policies and processes with respect to nonhuman primate research subjects.” This came as a result of complaints about maternal deprivation studies involving baby monkeys.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2016 the NIH held a workshop on “Ensuring the Continued Responsible Oversight of Research with Nonhuman Primates.” 

The NIH workshop was supposed to be the vehicle which addressed the concerns of Congress that “critical taxpayer dollars are spent on research that is scientifically and ethically justified and appropriately humane to all subjects involved.” It was hoped that this workshop would be conducted in much the same way that the Institutes of Medicine reviewed and proposed recommendations concerning the future use of chimpanzees. 

However, it was clear before the workshop convened that this workshop was being conducted as a justification and glorification of research using nonhuman primate models and had little or nothing to do with the ethical considerations behind their use and care. The workshop, which included no ethicists on the panels of speakers in a full-day program, had only two ethicists included among the 47 invited participants. In a program that was supposed to address the ethics of using nonhuman primates, their voices were drowned out by panels designed to silence the critics of primate experiments.

The NIH workshop failed in the most fundamental way to address any of the issues raised by Reps. Roybal-Allard, Titus, Engel and Farr in 2014, and deliberately avoided any review of its ethical policies and processes as directed by Congress in 2015.

With recent revelations about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) use of monkeys for harmful nicotine experiments, it is clear that the need for an independent assessment is more urgent than ever. In response to a letter from Dr. Jane Goodall sharing her concerns about these experiments, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, FDA, said that he “appointed an independent FDA review team, led by senior career experts and with the guidance of primate veterinarians, to assess the science and integrity of the animal research process for this study.”  Unfortunately, this review team is looking at only research done on nicotine addiction expressly referenced in Dr. Goodall’s letter, and not at the many other ways that the FDA is using non-human primates for research. While this particular protocol may be delayed, or perhaps even cancelled, it does not address the more important issue of the ethics of using non-human primates at all.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representative and ask them to demand the Institutes of Medicine—a meaningful forum for a discussion on the ethics of using nonhuman primates for harmful research.

 

Call to Actions (Edit the lines below as needed):

  1. Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representative, and urge them to ask the Institutes of Medicine to conduct a workshop that addresses questions about the scientific and ethical justification of nonhuman primate experiments.
  2. Spread the word! Share this page with your social network.

 

 

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

Contact

*Required fields
 

If you take action and have not already registered, you will receive periodic updates and communications from National Anti-Vivisection Society.

Message

Demand that NIH Conduct Workshop on Ethics of Nonhuman Primate Experiments

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to you with an issue of grave concern, where a government entity has thoroughly ignored a request by members of Congress in conducting a workshop that ignored its mandated objective.

In 2015, Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, was directed by members of Congress to "conduct a review of its ethical policies and processes with respect to nonhuman primate research subjects" after concerns were raised over maternal deprivation studies involving baby monkeys. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, assured Congress that he would convene a workshop to "review the ethical policies and procedures associated with the conduct of this research."

The NIH convened a workshop on September 7, 2016, in response to this request. However, the NIH workshop, "Ensuring the Continued Responsible Oversight of Research with Nonhuman Primates," failed entirely to meet the objective of the requested inquiry. The workshop addressed neither the ethical issues of using these animals for experimentation, nor the ethical issue of spending millions of dollars of taxpayer monies each year for decades on this research.

Please direct the NIH, or request the Institutes of Medicine, to conduct a meaningful workshop or hold hearings on the ethics of using nonhuman primates for experimentation that includes respected bioethicists and diverse points of views from scientists and the public. The objective of the forum should be to create better guidelines for the use and/or limitations on the use of these animals. It should also take into account: the monetary cost of these experiments; the objective of the research; the cost in pain and suffering for the animals; and the potential of alternative methods to replace, reduce and refine the use of nonhuman primates.

Thank you for your consideration,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]