Remember when I talked about the current state of using chimpanzee’s in biomedical research? If not, let me refresh your memory. About five months ago, I over-viewed the reasons as to why the United States is not using chimps as a model organism in biomedical research. At the core of it all, the issue for the moratorium was not as much ethical as it was more fiscal. I wish the NIH also took a stance in regards to the other issues, such as the ethics, in this situation.
Ever since 1995, research chimps have been prevented from breeding. A final decision has been made by the National Institutes of Health that chimpanzees will no longer be breed for research, according to Reuters. Kathleen Conlee of the Humane Society has commented on the issue,
“This decision is a huge step towards a day when chimpanzees are no longer used in invasive biomedical research and testing.
This will spare some chimpanzees a life of up to 60 years in a laboratory. While it doesn’t help chimpanzees already living in laboratories, it is a monumental decision.
Our ultimate goal is to put an end (to) the use of chimpanzees in research and retire those chimpanzees to permanent and appropriate sanctuary.”
I’ve mentioned in the previous posts where I covered this debate that I’ve always been a bit torn about using chimps in research. Often, they are kept in cages and scrutinized to invasive surgeries and treatments. By no means is the research done on them humane, especially since I know the psychological and emotional capacities of chimpanzees first hand.
However, I also know that chimps used in biomedical research aren’t thought of as disposable beings. They are used as important and valuable models to help understand very serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. While it’s not ethically just to subjugate a being to torture, it is not right to abandon hope for treating terminal illnesses. I wish it really didn’t need to be reduced down to a issue of the lesser of two evils, but that’s how many people see it. It will forever remain a polarizing topic to me.
Going back to the news I’m sharing with you, I am happy to report that the governing body, a faction of the NIH, isn’t gonna just neglect the remaining research chimps. They say they are commitmented to maintaining the existing chimpanzee facilities, including the federal sanctuary for chimpanzees that are no longer needed in biomedical research.