Monkey research moving abroad to escape stricter standards & activism

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2009:


STILLWATER–Oklahoma State University
president Burns Hargis personally vetoed anthrax
experiments on baboons planned by the university
veterinary school and funded by the National
Institutes of Health, revealed Susan Simpson of
The Oklahoman on November 30, 2009
“This research was not in the best
interest of the university. Testing lethal
pathogens on primates would be a new area for
OSU, outside our current research programs,”
OSU spokesperson Gary Shutt told Simpson.

The rare cancellation of a funded animal
research project was disclosed about six weeks
after InVivo Therapeutics Corporation, of
Cambridge, Massachusetts, sued Oregon Health &
Science University over the condition of monkeys
supplied by the Oregon National Primate Research
Center, an Oregon Health & Science University
facility, located in Beaverton, a Portland
The InVivo Therapeutics experiment called
for severing the spinal cords of 16 rhesus
macaques, “leaving portions of their lower body
paralyzed,” reported Boston Globe correspondent
Sean Teehan. “Researchers would then insert a
polymer device developed by InVivo into the
monkeys to see whether it helped them recover
lower body motor skills. InVivo said the Oregon
school failed to provide the number of monkeys
required, reducing the pool of animals available
for the surgery. The procedure was performed on
seven monkeys, all of whom developed bladder
complications soon after.”
Four of the seven monkeys were euthanized
due to the severity of their bladder problems.
“Another five monkeys suffered setbacks ranging
from a broken ankle to a staph infection,” wrote
Teehan. “InVivo said the bladder problems
developed because Oregon staffers failed to
provide the proper after-surgery care and
necessary medical devices to keep their bodily
systems functioning, even after being directed
to do so by InVivo researchers.”
Oregon Health & Science University
responded in a written statement that it
“completely disagrees with InVivo Therapeutic
Corp.’s assertions in this lawsuit and we plan to
vigorously defend ourselves.”
“The stench of monkey excrement is thick
at the Oregon National Primate Research Center,
scenting the air long before you hear the
screeching of the center’s 4,200 nonhuman
primates,” reported Willamette Week staff writer
James Pitkin in August 2009, after Oregon Health
& Science University applied for $14.8 million in
stimulus funds to expand the center.
“Funding would come from $10.4 billion
in stimulus money allocated to the NIH,” Pitkin
wrote. “The new facilities would be barely
distinguishable from a human hospital. Last year
the primate center gave its monkeys 264
ultrasounds, 7,917 physical examinations and 154
dental procedures, the grant application says.
In other words, OHSU lab monkeys may have better
access to health care than 46 million uninsured
But that might not be saying much. For
example, the USDA Animal & Plant Health
Inspection Service in December 2008 issued a
warning letter to the Oregon National Primate
Research Center for multiple alleged violations
of the Animal Welfare Act.
“The warning cited three errors in
veterinary care, including a serious 2007
incident where a pregnant monkey died when a
researcher failed to notice she was having a
troubled labor. The two other incidents involved
a sponge being left in a monkey after surgery and
a surgery performed on the wrong monkey,”
summarized Andy Dworkin of the Portland Oregonian.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now co-founder
Michael Budkie on October 21, 2009 issued
similar allegations in a 61-page complaint to
USDA-APHIS about conditions at the University of
Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research
Center. The SAEN complaint is based on a year’s
worth of health records for 592 monkeys kept in
one colony at New Iberia. SAEN obtained the
records through the federal Freedom of
Information Act.
“The colony of primates experienced 58
deaths in that year, or 10% of the colony,”
summarized Heather Miller of The Daily Iberian.
“Budkie said when projected to the research
center as a whole,” which houses nearly 6,000
monkeys plus 325 chimpanzees, “the number
suggests 650 primate deaths per year. Of 149
pregnancies, 48 resulted in infant mortality,
Budkie added.”
Both SAEN and the Humane Society of the
U.S. filed complaints about monkey care at New
Iberia in 2008, Miller recalled. The HSUS
complaint followed “a nine-month undercover
investigation of the facility and extensive media
coverage,” beginning with an exposé aired by the
ABC news magazine program Nightline. A series of
USDA-APHIS inspections followed, including a
reinspection personally ordered by Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The investigation is
complete, but the findings remain under legal
review,” Miller said she was told by USDA-APHIS
spokesperson David Sacks.
Monkey use rises
The intensified scrutiny of nonhuman
primate research facilities comes as monkey
studies continue trending upward. Chimp studies
fell into disfavor in the 1990s, after chimps
proved almost useless as subjects of HIV
research, but monkeys in the early 21st century
have become the subjects of choice for studies of
biological agents which might be used as weapons.
As laboratory monkey suppliers have increased the
numbers of monkeys available to researchers, use
has expanded in other directions.
Total U.S. lab use of nonhuman primates
reached an all-time high of 69,990 in 2007, the
most recent year for which USDA-APHIS has
published data, up from 49,382 in 2001.
Increased monkey use is evident in Britain, as
well, rising 16% in 2008 alone.
The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration recently disclosed that it has
resumed monkey studies, decades after abandoning
them in the early years of human space flight and
more than 10 years after divesting of the former
NASA chimpanzee colony by transferring them to
the now defunct Coulston Foundation. Coulston
eventually retired 34 ex-NASA chimps to Primarily
Primates. The remainder were acquired by the
Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care (also known as
Save The Chimps) in 2001 and 2002.
“For the new study, 18 to 28 squirrel
monkeys will be exposed to a low dose of the type
of radiation that astronauts traveling to Mars
can expect to encounter,” reported Irene Klotz
of Discovery News. “The animals will not be
killed,” but will remain under longterm
A more forceful jolt to activist
ambitions of abolishing nonhuman primate
experiments may be under construction soon at the
University of Wisconsin in Madison. The
university has applied for $15 million in federal
economic stimulus funds to finance new monkey
research facilities that would combine all monkey
research on campus into one building.
The site, between two existing monkey
research centers, formerly belonged to bicycle
shop owner Roger Charly. Charly initially agreed
to sell it to retired California physician
Richard McLellan for $675,000, to house a
National Primate Research Center Exhibition Hall,
to be developed by Primate Freedom founder Rick
Bogle. But Charly changed his mind before the
sale was completed, and after a four-year court
fight, sold the property to the university for
$1 million.
“A staggering 27,905 monkeys were
imported to the United States in 2008,” says
International Primate Protection League founder
Shirley McGreal, “with most of the doomed
animals coming from China,” according to U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service import records. China
sold 18,074 monkeys to U.S. laboratories in 2008,
four times as many as runner-up Mauritius
(4,502). Cambodia exported 1,920 monkeys to the
U.S., Vietnam sent 1,800, and Indonesia sent
Ninety-five percent of the monkeys bought
from abroad by U.S. labs in 2008– 26,499 in
all–were crab-eating macaques. “Ironically, the
species most traded from China, the crab-eating
macaque, is not native to China,” McGreal
notes, “but China appears to be vacuuming up the
monkeys from neighbor countries.” For example,
Laotian exports of crab-eating macques to China
soared from 100 in 2006 to 7,700 in 2007, but
fell back to 800 in 2008, according to United
Nations Environment Program data.
Also imported into the U.S. in 2008 for
lab use were 838 rhesus macaques and 390 African
green vervets.
U.S. labs are only allowed to buy
captive-bred monkeys, but the lab suppliers’
breeding stock are wild-caught, and wild-caught
monkeys have sometimes been detected among
monkeys sold as “captive bred.”
The increasing traffic has encouraged
Bioculture Ltd., of Mauritius, already breeding
monkeys at 19 sites around the world, to breed
crab-eating macaques in Puerto Rico, closer to
the U.S. market. “Bioculture Ltd. hopes to begin
operating next summer in Guayama,” reported Jill
Laster of Associated Press in November 2009,
“much to the dismay of islanders already dealing
with a plague of patas monkeys–descendants of
lab escapees who run though backyards, stop
traffic, and destroy crops.”
Attempts to capture and sell the patas
monkeys have failed for decades. Puerto Rican
secretary of natural resources Javier Velez
Arrocho in December 2008 authorized wildlife
rangers to trap and shoot as many as 1,000
monkeys in 11 troupes who inhabit the Lagas
Valley, after 92 research organizations showed
no interest in them.
Novartis to China
China, meanwhile, is rapidly moving
from supplying monkeys to U.S. and European labs
to becoming a direct participant in breaking-edge
biomedical research.
Already operating in China since 2006,
the Swiss-based Novartis pharmaceutical empire on
November 3, 2009 anounced that it would spend $1
billion to expand the Novartis Institute for
BioMedical Research in Shanghai, and $250
million more to build an “advanced technical
research and development and manufacturing
facility in Changshu.” The Novartis research
staff in China will grow from 160 to “about
1,000,” Novartis said.
Novartis did not disclose how many
animals will be used in China, nor will Novartis
be required to disclose animal testing data under
current Chinese law.
Swiss reports said that all Novartis
animal testing will move to China, after
antivivisectionists in July 2009 allegedly stole
an urn containing the ashes of chief executive
officer Daniel Vasella’s mother, who died in
2001; spray-painted slogans on her headstone;
torched Vasella’s hunting lodge in Bach,
Austria; and sprayed slogans attacking Novartis
and Vasella on the village church in Risch,
Switzerland, where Vasella lives. Vandals
earlier damaged the homes and cars of Novartis
staff, and a suspected arson in May 2009 damaged
a restaurant at sports facilities Novartis owns
in St. Louis, France.
One of the slogans sprayed on the
headstone was “Drop HLS Now,” in apparent
reference to the testing firm Huntingdon Life
Sciences, but Novartis spokesperson Satoshi
Sugimoto told Associated Press writer Thomas
Brunner that Novartis had not done business with
Huntingdon in years.
In Malaysia, meanwhile, the Johor State
Investment Centre in May 2009 applied for
permission to import macaques from Indonesia,
China, or Vietnam for use in a new animal
testing laboratory. Saharuddin Anan, director
of the Malaysian wildlife department’s
legislation and enforcement division, told Agence
France-Presse that the proposal was under study,
with input from animal and environmental groups.
Friends of the Earth/ Malaysia president Mohamad
Idris told Agence France-Press that the project
appeared to be backed by an unnamed French
pharmaceutical research company.
Indonesia, like Malaysia and India,
officially prohibits exports of wild-caught
monkeys for research, but the British Union for
the Abolition of Vivisection charged in April
2009 that the Indonesia ban is “a sham.”
Charged BUAV spokesperson Sarah Kite in
the Bali Times, “The Indonesian Ministry of
Forestry has increased trapping quotas for
wild-caught long-tailed macaques from 5,100 in
2008 to 15,100 for 2009.” Even if the
wild-caught macaques are used only as breeders,
the numbers indicate an imminent expansion of
macaque exports.
Indonesia “exported a total of 24,811
macaques worldwide between 1997 and 2006,” wrote
Anissa S. Febrina of the Jakarta Post.
A May 18, 2009 arson that did $300,000
worth of damage to the Reno offices of Scientific
Resources International may further encourage the
trend toward exporting animal research to
authoritarian states in the developing world.
SRI imports monkeys from China. A North American
Animal Liberation Front Press Office web posting
claimed the arson was an ALF action.

Suspect is bowhunter

The most recent suspect charged with
allegedly attacking animal research facilities,
meanwhile, didn’t sound much like an animal
rights activist in an interview with Associated
Press writer Patrick Condon.
Scott DeMuth, 22, was in November 2009
charged with one count of conspiring to commit
animal enterprise terrorism, for allegedly
participating in an unspecified manner in a
November 2004 raid on Spence Laboratories at the
University of Iowa.
The raiders “released more than 300
animals, dumped chemicals on data, damaged
about 40 computers, and publicized the home
addresses of several researchers,” wrote Condon.
“One other person, Carrie Feldman, has been
detained in connection with an investigation into
the raid. She has not been charged. DeMuth says
Feldman used to be his girlfriend. DeMuth,” a
meat-eating bow hunter, “denies he was involved
in the raid at all,” Condon reported. “He says
he has never been an animal rights activist and
believes he has been targeted because he got to
know some underground animal rights activists and
holds unpopular political views.”

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.