Researchers are only a couple of weeks away from confirming a definitive link between the Zika virus that has infected people throughout South America and the U.S. and microcephaly, a devastating birth defect that causes babies to have shrunken heads and brains. They’ve made speedy progress by using cutting-edge research tools, including advanced 3-D “minibrains,” epidemiological data, amniotic fluid samples from pregnant women, and cell cultures.
But animal experimenters are only too willing to exploit the growing public concern about Zika in order to seek more funding for cruel, expensive, ineffective, and time-consuming experiments on monkeys and other animals.
Not only must we stop wasting precious time and money on experiments on animals that have proved time and again to be unreliable indicators of how diseases affect human bodies, we also have to stop importing monkeys from other countries altogether. Monkeys are known hosts of Zika, so importing them into the U.S. for experiments and then breeding and warehousing them in decrepit monkey prisons like Primate Products, Inc., creates a perfect storm of a public health hazard.