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NIH Restricts Use of Chimpanzees in Labs 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-more-monkey-business dept.
vikingpower writes "The U.S. National Institutes of Health on Thursday suspended all new grants for biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees and accepted the first uniform criteria for assessing the necessity of such research (full report here). Those guidelines require that the research be necessary for human health, and that there be no other way to accomplish it. A San Francisco Chronicle article points out why chimpanzees are so often used for medical research, as they are evolutionarily the closest to human beings. One may wonder if Europe and Asia are to follow the U.S.?"
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NIH Restricts Use of Chimpanzees in Labs

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  • substitute? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AntEater (16627) on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:54AM (#38396632) Homepage

    I guess they'll have to go back to using grad students.

    • Where's my "-1, Depressing" mod option at?

    • by EvilSpudBoy (1159091) on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:56AM (#38396664)
      The research will suffer becuase grad students aren't as evolutionarily close to human beings as chimpanzees.
    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      Actually humans are used in medical research all the time. Such experiments are called "clinical trials." I'm not a biologist but I would imagine the set of experiments where one cannot use rodents and which are too dangerous for human trials would be relatively small.
      • I'm not a biologist but I would imagine the set of experiments where one cannot use rodents and which are too dangerous for human trials would be relatively small.

        How could you reliably know that the drug was not too dangerous for human trials without trying it on animals first? However since trials for human health where there is no suitable alternative still get funding it seems that the balance is acceptable although it seems a little dangerous that they are going to start putting relative values on animal life. For example why is an orang-utan apparently less important than a chimp? At what threshold is the risk to a human being (assuming that an alternative ani

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:07AM (#38396770)
      Planet of the Grad Students.

      Ruled by Mr. Zaius BS.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or Gitmo detainees, considering they dont' have any rights anymore...

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      I guess they'll have to go back to using grad students.

      I would normally get offended at this, but since I just passed my thesis defense not an hour ago, I am technically no longer a grad student.

    • by bandy (99800)
      I was going to suggest Lawyers. They're nearly identical to Humans, save for their moral and ethical senses, and no-one will complain about mistreating them.
      • by nedwidek (98930)

        The problem there is that you generally need to euthanize the animal after the experiment. With lawyers it'll be too much fun and the researches will too often do it before the experiment is over.

  • New world apes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:55AM (#38396646)

    We are actually following the EU on this.

  • One may wonder if Europe and Asia are to follow the U.S.?

    Does the US necessarily follow Europe or Asia on other pertinent matters affecting the world? If the answer to that question is "yes" then those entities will follow the US, otherwise it's wishful thinking.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:02AM (#38396722)

      One may wonder if Europe and Asia are to follow the U.S.?

      In Europe, medical tests on apes (Chimpansees, Gorillas, Oerang utans and one other race whose name eludes me at the moment) are already illegal and have been for a few years (even longer in certain member states). Fairly serious restrictions also apply to tests involving other primates.

      An article from The Independent 2 years ago announcing the official legislation
      http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/new-eu-rules-on-animal-testing-ban-use-of-apes-2077443.html

      • by Luthwyhn (527835)

        The one you're looking for is probably Gibbons, the family of Lesser Apes... though it could be the Bonobo, the other species in the Pan genus with Chimps which most people don't know exists.

      • And good luck getting many in Asia to respect animal rights.
      • by EvDigg (2530968)
        According to the Humane Society, the United States and Gabon are the only two countries in the world that still test on Chimpanzees. The paper I'm looking at was from 2007, so the official legislation prohibiting it you mention from 2 years ago may have been pretty easily passed if no one was using them for testing in the EU at that time anyway. http://altweb.jhsph.edu/bin/g/c/paper111.pdf [jhsph.edu]
    • In germany at least (I did not check other EU states) experiments on human like apes (chimps, gorrilas etc.) are forbidden anyway. For all other apes exist reguations and restrictions ...

  • With any luck, at some point we'll have good enough simulated models to more accurately represent humans biomedically than chimps do. I doubt that we'll be able to do that with behavioral research. So how can we do effective behavioral research, if we can't use humans or similar non-humans? Are we required to exclusively use gathered, instead of experimental, data in the future?
    • by tburkhol (121842)
      The director's comments, and the findings of the advisory panel, make clear that NIH will continue to support work that can only be done in chimpanzees: monoclonal antibody therapies, research on comparative genomics, and non-invasive studies of social and behavioral factors that affect the development, prevention, or treatment of disease. Generally all non- or minimally-invasive work. The moratorium on all chimpanzee grants is only to give NIH time to develop processes for making sure grants comply with
    • by Defenestrar (1773808) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:57AM (#38397408)

      It's not a total prohibition. It's a new requirement that you must show that the usage of pan troglodytes and possibly pan paniscus (common chimp and bonobo respectively), is required for the research and that there is no other alternative. You must also show that the research is valuable and worth the cost (in addition to the grants own merits). You currently already need IRB approval/exemptions for human subject research (and animal trials for that matter), but this is to make sure you really need a chimp for your research when another model might work (many IRBs wouldn't make this a requirement for the research - they'd worry more about the treatment, conditions, etc... along the way).

      Furthermore, this is the NIH which funds research grants, and not the FDA which approves preclinical trials on animal subjects (they aren't clinical trials until you use humans) for new drugs and medical devices. There's still plenty of chances for chimps to get experimented on and sacrificed for R&D. These new rules should just tighten up how often people pick chimps as a model. Not that expense, care, attachment, PR, and other factors haven't already moved the ball along. This'll have more impact on the focused-to-oblivion researcher who wanted to test his thingy on something as close to human as he could, not worrying about any of the above factors because he's got his grant and that lets him keep ignoring the rest of the world.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:58AM (#38396684)
    Look at all the trouble those super smart rats caused. It's probably not a good idea to be doing that stuff with something that starts out even smarter, like a chimp.

    Wait. Is NIH different from NIMH?
    • Yes, very different indeed.

      NIH is a serious problem affecting engineers and scientists of all stripes. Chimps simply were not created by researchers, thus they don't know exactly how to improve them to have lasers coming out of their foreheads. So scientists will endeavor for about a year or so to create their own intelligent primate from the ground up. It will basically look and act mostly the same with a few odd quirks like an extra nose or ear somewhere, but they'll have created it so they'll brag more a

    • by bgeezus (1252178)

      Wait. Is NIH different from NIMH?

      The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is one of the institutes under the umbrella National Institutes of Health (NIH). And yes, the NIMH from the cartoon movie is based on the real NIMH.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:01AM (#38396710) Homepage

    ... the most recent remake of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes might be enough to make them rethink things a little...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps they should experiment on anonymous cowards instead! Oh shi...!

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:02AM (#38396714)

    They have just seen the new Planet of Apes.

  • Was a university's primate research laboratory. They were doing studies on addiction. So you had these metal cages, not much bigger than the monkeys, just stacked together in a room.

  • Unfair (Score:2, Funny)

    by backslashdot (95548)

    Look, I have disagreements with Tea Party supporters too .. but to outright ban them from labs? That doesn't seem right to me.

    • Re:Unfair (Score:4, Funny)

      by c0lo (1497653) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:16AM (#38396886)

      Look, I have disagreements with Tea Party supporters too .. but to outright ban them from labs? That doesn't seem right to me.

      Non sequitur. NIH banned the use of evolutionary closer relatives of humans, didn't say anything about lower species.

  • No more chimps. :(

    Time to start doing more experiments on bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.

  • Good, I'm sick of cleaning up those heaps of dead monkeys.

    Farnsworth: Well, as a man enters his 18th decade, he thinks back on the mistakes he's made in life.
    Amy: Like the heaps of dead monkeys?
    Farnsworth: Science cannot move forward without heaps! No, what I regret is the youth I wasted playing it safe.

  • Before [laughparty.com] the ban and after [gstatic.com].
  • Unfortunately vivisection is an industry; and like all industries it is trying to grow; which means spending lots and lots on positive PR(*) and excusing every experiment; however marginal it's benefit.

    As with War and our Economic Slavery; Greed and the Desire to profit at the expense of others know no bounds.

    (*) Hi Guys! Welcome to slashdot with your preprepared accounts; this is where you earn your PR dollar at the expense of us dumb animals.

    • by scourfish (573542)
      Could I get a clear definition of what animal rights activists mean when they define "vivisection?"
      • by EasyTarget (43516)

        A dictionary will give you a good definition too; and rather less manipulated by either side.
        eg: merriam-webster [merriam-webster.com]

        I certainly intended it in the 'broad' sense of: causing harm to animals in a scientific context.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Who cares? Yes, we should be as humane as reasonably possible -- there's no point in cruelty for its own sake -- but any experiment with even a marginal benefit that requires a living test subject is more important than an animal. Obviously there's no need to discover the terminal velocity of live chimps, assuming somebody hasn't already done that, but when the choice is between the well being of an animal versus a person? People win, animals lose.

  • How would you determine "no other way"?

    • Like this:

      [3000 pages of obtuse, meaningless, but impressive-looking technical mumbo jumbo] Therefore, there is no other way.

  • The recent movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

    Fearing a similar occurrence of super-intelligent chimps that somehow would be able to over-power the human run world.

    Seriously, like even a few hundred armed chimps and gorillas could handle the mass of gangs in Los Angelos. Let alone the U.S. Marines.

    Thank God we had the mighty mighty Coast Guard to save us from the "Rise of the Planet of the Dolphins"

    SEMPER PARATUS

  • I wonder how many people there are living in ivory towers that criticize this type of research whilst being oblivious on how many millions of lives have been saved because of it? How many drugs and other medical break troughs could only only have happened by using animal testing? What are people proposing, we go back to the days of using prisoners and societies undesirables? Do these people propose that we go without testing and hope for the best with live humans (which is really just going back to the ques

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      I mostly agree, but by the same token, the NIH is publicly funded. So, while its great to say "look how many lives saved" is great, and it wins my support, but to justify using public funding, I think you need more than that. If people have objections, those objections are legitimate as long as they are being made to contribute, even indirectly.

      Also, I must note, the summary says the NIH is simply no longer funding these studies. That is distinct from banning the research. Private funding is still possible.

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        I think you have a fair point, but is that really that much different from blocking stem cell research funding? I guess I put them both in the same category. A lot of people believe in the separation of church and state, I happen to believe in the separation of science and politics.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          But isn't that a bit of a pipe dream? I mean, you probably agree that there are ethical boundaries. Certainly, few would argue that we should be rounding up humans for testing, especially testing that would involve necropsy.

          Once we agree that there should be ethical boundaries, we then have to agree on what those ethics are, and where the lines need to be drawn....

          In the end, politics creeps in somewhere in there, no matter what. This is especially evident when they hold the purse strings.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      I agree with you, personally, but most people that I have found who criticize this type of research are under the impression that scientists can ultimately accomplish the same ends without actually testing it on living creatures... that they can study the effects of such things on paper and through actual experimentation, as well as computer simulation, and that those processes will reflect what goes on inside of a living body. They have mistakenly adopted the view that the differences between theory and
    • by JustNiz (692889)

      Saving lives is overrated. There's not exactly a shortage of humans on the planet. We are just animals too.

    • by hipp5 (1635263)

      whilst being oblivious on how many millions of lives have been saved because of it

      Except the summary quite clearly says, "Those guidelines require that the research be necessary for human health." So we can continue saving lives. They're not banning chimps, they're just putting conditions on their use. Seems reasonable to me.

    • I wonder how many people there are living in ivory towers that criticize this type of research whilst being oblivious on how many millions of lives have been saved because of it? How many drugs and other medical break troughs could only only have happened by using animal testing? What are people proposing, we go back to the days of using prisoners and societies undesirables? Do these people propose that we go without testing and hope for the best with live humans (which is really just going back to the question of who becomes the test subjects)?

      /i lump such people in with global warming deniers and their like

      I think there are two issues with what you said:

      Firstly, "this type" of research, meaning the research which will no longer receive grant money, by definition includes only the research projects which were unnecessary for human health, or have another viable avenue by which the same knowledge can be achieved. This is presumably meant to discourage the rampancy of cruel research methods currently being used simply because they're more cost effective, or because they're the status quo and the industry hasn

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        I believe in the separation of science and politics. My point was to show something where politics gets mixed in with science.

        I think perhaps a better way to get my point across is to say that I would lump them in with people who want to cut off funding for stem cell research. When science is dictated by politics science always loses.

        • But ethics are not the same as politics. When science is not dictated by ethics all of humanity tends to lose. That's why we're having a debate on where the line should be drawn.

          Even the argument to cut off funding for stem cell research is slightly different than this since that tends to be religiously motivated, rather than based on morals arrived at through rational debate. Also I don't think you should feel a need to lump anything in with anything, these are separate arguments for separate issues whi
  • by phrostie (121428)

    it's the rats you have to keep an eye on.

  • One may wonder if Europe and Asia are to follow the U.S.

    I don't know about Europe - I doubt they will - but Asia certainly won't. Asia has a terrible animal abuse record, especially in China, where all kinds of animal parts are believed to increase your virility. If you want to really feel sick for a while, check up on "bear bile farming" as an example.

    Asia treats its own human population badly enough, what makes one think that they would come close to treating animals with any respect?

  • Now they have to join the ranks of the unemployed. Welcome to our world.

    What do you mean, Could you borrow my laptop?

  • If one makes the case that it's unethical to use Chimps as test subjects then it follows that it's unethical to use any animal as a test subject. This is exactly what the animal rights whackos want.

    I don't buy the "they're too similar to people" argument. I don't care how similar to people they are, they're not people. A person's ethical concerns are limited to the realm of people. There is no valid normative theory that draws a line between primates and the rest of animals. There are the theories the anima

    • I don't buy the "they're too similar to people" argument. I don't care how similar to people they are, they're not people. A person's ethical concerns are limited to the realm of people. There is no valid normative theory that draws a line between primates and the rest of animals.

      But doesn't this just draw the line in a slightly different place, i.e. between humans and all other animals?

      • Yes, that's the point. There is a line drawn between humans and animals. A human has an ethical duty towards his fellow man but he has no such obligations to animals.

        That doesn't mean that I would be justified in driving hordes of animals extinct. This would likely have a negative impact on my fellow man, which would thus make it unethical. But there is nothing unethical about killing, eating, and wearing an animal -- unless, of course, it belongs to another person and I've stolen it from them. There's actu

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      I don't buy the "they're too similar to people" argument. I don't care how similar to people they are, they're not people. A person's ethical concerns are limited to the realm of people. There is no valid normative theory that draws a line between Negroes and the rest of animals

      It all depends on where you draw the line.

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)

      I don't care how similar to people they are, they're not people. A person's ethical concerns are limited to the realm of people.

      So if there were a neanderthal today would it be ethically relevant? If intelligent aliens showed up would you have no ethical problem hurting them? And if these are ok,how do you feel about experimenting on mentally retarded humans? Why, if at all, are any of these different?

      There are ethical systems that can make the sort of distinctions that you think are't possible. For example, a utilitarian will consider the degree of suffering to any living thing and then consider how much benefit comes from the r

      • I said no valid normative theory. As in, a logically coherent one.

        No, I would have no qualms hurting/enslaving/experimenting on intelligent aliens. I would see it as a moral necessity to assess their strengths and weaknesses so we can eliminate them if necessary. Fuck E.T., it would have been best for the government to catch him.

        When it comes to neanderthals, it's unclear how they relate to us. There are various theories one way or the other. Even though I love hypothetical ethical quandaries, this one is s

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          So you don't actually mean "logically coherent" but mean an ethical theory that makes you happy. Frankly, your ethical system seems pretty incoherent or inconsistently applied. If you are a Kantian do you have zero concern about what happens if every intelligent species assigns zero ethical weight to the others? Categorical imperative would at minimum say one should have ethical concern for intelligent aliens.
        • This is an analogous situation to war crimes regarding POWs, you know. The reason there are treaties against torture isn't so much because we want to prove our moral superiority (to be pussies, to use your language regarding vegans), but because we want the moral authority to denounce our opponents in a conflict should they torture *our* soldiers. By your logic, an alien race - most assuredly technologically/socially/whatever superior to human beings, should they arrive tomorrow - would be perfectly justif
        • No, I would have no qualms hurting/enslaving/experimenting on intelligent aliens.

          I don't think most folks who have decided that non-human animals are okay to torture for human benefit would go this far. You seem to me to be outstanding in your xenophobia.

          But maybe you're just coming at it from what you think of as a practical angle, knowledge gained to cope with a possible threat (albeit at the cost of offense to an other).

          I'd argue that the expectation of malice, so great that it pushes most sentient enti

          • If a silicon-based computer AI became sentient, I would consider it morally imperative to destroy it immediately. Like Frankenstein watching his monster come to life:

            I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.

            I do see this attitude as pre-emptive self-defense, a prioritization of all things after mankind, lest we become the bird that chooses to perch on a crocodile tooth.

            I also don't see these hypotheticals as that pertinent to reality: I don't believe we'll ever contact intelligent alien life and I don't believe it's technologically possible to con

            • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
              Moral systems should be able to deal with hypotheticals. But I find it interesting that in this post you assert apparently that the line you are distinguishing is in fact between the life of a chimpanzee v. the life of a person. I don't think anyone here is arguing otherwise. Would you be say in favor of testing cosmetics on chimpanzees? It will make the chimpanzees lives miserable and may end up killing a few but won't have any chance of saving humans. Similar questions apply to testing medicines on the ch
    • >A person's ethical concerns are limited to the realm of people.

      If you carry this argument to its logical conclusion, it follows that we should not have any laws against animal cruelty, and you should be OK with it if I torture animals for amusement.

      The thing is that I agree with much of your post, but nothing destroys a valid argument quicker than careless overstatement.

  • I say ban all animal testing, we have enough human population to test on ourselves first.
    a) you will see (Major) less cruelty, as now you are doing it to a human, so you do care about treatment of that person during testing

    b) you will see a lot less wasteful efforts and useless testing as now any pain causing agents will be again closely monitored to not have to repeat another
    round of testing needlessly.

    c) you will see the medical companies make less money off the public's back on testing new drugs as now t

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You know, these drugs are tested on humans in things called "clinical trials".

      If you want to risk your life taking an untested -- on anything -- drug in a phase I trial, please do. But physicians won't let you play novel compound Russian roulette, as that would be unethical.

      Perhaps you could show them your ethics by refusing all drugs that have ever been tested on animals (ditto for your pets). You will have a substantially shorter lifespan (as will Rex and Moggie) -- but you'll be no hypocrite in doing so.

    • by bgeezus (1252178)
      You do know that the NIH has never been in the business of funding hair dye research, yes? And you also know that several of your close friends and family members wouldn't be alive today or would have debilitating diseases if not for animal testing, yes? Misanthropy is all well and good, but some of us actually care about our loved ones.
      • >And you also know that several of your close friends and family members wouldn't be alive today or would have debilitating diseases if not for animal testing, yes?
        You do know, that we could have made just as much progress using human test subjects....the whole point of my rant was to show how little people value lives other then humans.... you would never consider using your own son to test on, yet you would consider using an animal which might be have family as well, but just because they have limited

  • NIH Restricts Use of Chimpanzees in Labs

    If they can manage to invent their own chimps I say more power to them.

  • would be to grant chimpanzees the right to join the army.

  • ". . . How come monkeys are all hairy, yet they have pink arses with no hair on, whilst I'm as bald as a coot and I've got a big hairy arse? Perhaps Charles Darwin [and Chimpanzee Research] could explain that!" -- Viz

  • I thought it said "NHL Restricts Use of Chimpanzees in Labs." I think that would explain a lot about hockey, actually.
  • I for one welcome our new and enlightened Dark Age.

  • Apes are mammals with brains, but we humans abused these creatures.

    I hope the National Institution of Health maintains the ban on doing experiments with them and stops doing the same with Monkeys.

  • Hey, code monkey, time to level up and start your new exciting career.
    Medical research is a growing field and the sky's (aka heaven) the limit for the right candidate.
    Benefits include free food, free housing and lots of free time for you own pursuits*.
    Science needs you!

    *Kibble, cage and staring at the bars thereof.

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