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Lobbyists Try to Ward off Ban on Chimp Research


The Hill, Washington D.C.’s main newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress, is seeing a surge in lobbying activity from people in the business of doing experiments on chimpanzees.

Moves by Washington to limit or ban medical research that uses chimpanzees have triggered a lobbying counteroffensive on K Street.

The paper says that the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (the major vivisection laboratory that was recently profiled on 60 Minutes) has “bulked up” its lobbying team in Washington in the face of

a) government moves to cut down on the number of experiments conducted on chimps and

b) a bill that would end them altogether.

Major universities have squared off with animal welfare groups over legislation — known as the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act — that would end federally funded research with chimps and other apes. The Obama administration, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is also looking at how to implement new restrictions on the use of chimps by scientists.

The article quotes Joe Carey, vice president for public affairs at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, as saying: “If the act passed, biomedical research utilizing chimpanzees would eventually end, possibly before scientists could develop an effective vaccine for Hepatitis C, which is a devastating world health problem,”

The NIH’s Institute of Medicine recently published a report recommending that medical research using chimpanzees be cut way back, and a bill is on its way through Congress to bring an end to such research altogether. But the vivisection labs aren’t going down quietly; they’re mounting a major, well-funded, lobbying campaign of their own:

Scientists and academics are battling back. They contend the Institute of Medicine’s report did not endorse a total ban on research using chimps and said it’s impossible to predict if such research will be needed again in the future.

The Association of American Universities (AAU), a trade group of 61 research schools, is leading the lobbying effort. Carrie Wolinetz, AAU’s associate vice president for federal relations (meaning chief lobbyist), worries that “This may be the first step toward restricting research using other non-human primates.”

We certainly hope so.