Medical Chimp-Testing May Be Over

Congress reviewing bill to ban all ape testing
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2011 3:04 PM CST
A chimpanzee cuddles her infant in their newly renovated habitat at Taronga Zoo in Sydney on September 30, 2011.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Chimpanzees: valuable test subjects, or caged relatives who deserve better treatment? With a ban on all ape-testing now in Congress, the controversial practice dating back to the 1920s may soon be over, the New York Times reports. “Now is the time to get these chimps out of invasive research and out of the labs," says the US Humane Society president. A Maryland Republican who sponsored the bill says it would save taxpayers $30 million per year and save apes a lot of agony.

"We shouldn’t abuse our power,” he insists. On the plus side, chimp-testing has produced a vaccine for hepatitis B, with another targeting hepatitis C. The director of a San Antonio primate research lab agrees that this is “a crucial moment" for chimp-testing, but passionately defends the practice: "It would be grossly unethical not to do research” on chimpanzees, he says. The US is one of two countries that allows chimp-testing, and has about 1,000 of them in research facilities.

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