By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board on Sat, Dec 17, 2011
If the 176 chimpanzees housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility could speak, they would thank New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman. Because they can’t, New Mexicans should.
Udall and Bingaman did what real leaders do and took up the plight of those who can’t fight their own fight. They spoke up against what the National Institutes of Health planned to do to the 176 chimps in Alamogordo and the 14 N.M. chimps shipped to Texas. They requested an independent Institute of Medicine committee report on the value of medical tests on chimps. And when the report, released this week, found “recent advances in alternate research tools … have rendered chimpanzees largely unnecessary as research subjects,” they wrote to the director of NIH, and said no more.
No more making sick animals even sicker with no hope of scientific gain. No more.
The senators point out “the report cautions against imposing an immediate ban on the use of chimpanzees in research (but) it clearly highlights the need for using chimpanzees in testing has greatly diminished. … With that in mind, we ask that you support funding for … technologies that further diminish the need to use chimpanzees in biomedical research.”
NIH says it will implement report recommendations. That should void the tax-dollars-at-waste grant to Texas Biomed for invasive tests on the Alamogordo chimps.
Udall then promptly joined 12 senators and 121 representatives and signed on to The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which removes the United States’ shameful status as the only developed nation in the world still using chimps for testing.
Udall and Bingaman didn’t speak up to get votes from 190 chimps. They did it because it was the ethically, morally, scientifically and fiscally responsible thing to do. And they deserve our thanks.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
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