The NIH is drastically reducing its research on chimps, a move that animal rights advocates hail as humane and long overdue. They've got it exactly backward, writes the director of a research center affected by the move. What they fail to consider is that chimp research doesn't just benefit humans, it benefits wild chimps and gorillas as well, writes John VandeBerg in the New York Times. "It could even help those species from becoming extinct."
VandeBerg runs down a list of diseases—including Ebola, chimpanzee AIDS, and especially respiratory diseases caught from humans— that are decimating ape populations around the world. All are treatable with vaccines, but those vaccines won't be as effective without animal testing. Yes, advancements have reduced the need for animals in research, but they haven't eliminated it. The NIH concedes the point in its decision to keep 50 chimps in the program, but that's not enough. The bottom line is that "the benefits of such research outweigh the costs," writes VandeBerg. Click for his full column. (Read more apes stories.)