United States National Institutes of Health (NIH will stop conducting research on 110 chimpanzees, citing the “special nature” of “our closest relatives” in the animal kingdom.
“This is a significant step in winding down NIH’s investment in chimpanzee research based on the way science has evolved and our great sensitivity to the special nature of these remarkable animals, our closest relatives,” NIH head Frances Collins told The Washington Post.
Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has followed legal efforts by animal rights groups to end research on chimpanzees, pointed out a public health problem with ending such research.
“Caving into the animal rights movement could put millions of human lives at stake because it would forbid the sort of biomedical research that has helped produce life-saving vaccines for diseases such as Hepatitis B. Chimps are also essential in AIDs research and the hope of developing an elusive vaccine against the deadlier Hepatitis C, an infectious viral disease that leads to swelling of the liver and plagues tens of millions of people worldwide,” Judicial Watch warns.
The Washington Post noted that animal rights groups are happy with Collins’ decision. “We’re very pleased. It’s a good number; 110 is a large number to retire,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle wants Congress to pass a bill banning chimpanzee research during the lame-duck session after the election this year, according to WaPo.