For Immediate Release:
August 26, 2022
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Washington – Yesterday, a workshop convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) as part of a congressional mandate to review the current state and future use of primates in experimentation turned into an expensive, taxpayer-funded gathering dominated by primate experimenters, commercial suppliers, and lobbyists who profit from the primate experimentation industry.
The study—requested by Congress and commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—was intended to identify areas in which primate experiments could be eliminated in NIH’s intramural program. The workshop—which is expected to provide the same level of independent, broad scrutiny as a similarly convened committee did for chimpanzees in 2011—opened with a statement that ethical considerations are outside the purview of the committee, even though they were the impetus for the study in the first place. Not surprisingly, rather than discussing opportunities to reduce or eliminate the use of primates in laboratories, this group of primate experimentation profiteers concluded that they need more money and more monkeys—a lot more money and a lot more monkeys.
The committee opted not to discuss the harm associated with animal experimentation, the high translational failure rate of these experiments, or the industry’s complicity in the growing illegal capture, international importation, and transport of the most commonly used monkey species, which has contributed to the recent elevated classification of long-tailed macaques and pig-tailed macaques from “vulnerable” to “endangered.”
At this “public” workshop, dissenting voices were not welcomed or solicited. Instead, the workshop rolled out the red carpet for the very people who rake in millions of taxpayer dollars selling monkeys, tormenting and killing monkeys, and lobbying for experimenting on monkeys. Many panelists complained that they didn’t have enough monkeys, but when asked by other panelists for hard evidence of this shortage, you could hear crickets chirping.
It’s a dark day when NASEM—esteemed as a body that’s supposed to provide “independent, objective advice to inform policy with evidence, spark progress and innovation, and confront challenging issues for the benefit of society”—chooses to make a mockery of an important study by embedding itself with entities that have vested interests and no intention of investigating a controversial issue fairly but only want to further entrench the status quo.