Better Science

Better Science

Dangerous and Unnecessary

Elsie
Elsie
Photo: Courtesy of PETA

Researchers who use chimpanzees are operating under the paradigm that assumes humans and chimpanzees are more similar than different. Modern evolutionary biology reveals that the differences are far more important than the similarities.

— Ray Greek, MD
    Niall Shanks, PhD
    Jean Greek, DVM

There was a time in the history of science when standard medical procedures to “help” people with emotional illness included pre-frontal lobotomies—where the brain was literally scrambled with a blade inserted behind the eye socket.

There was a time when scientific thought included notions like HIV-infected blood was harmless to humans.

There was a time when doctors didn't feel compelled to wash their hands as they moved from patient to patient because they refused to accept the germ theory of disease promoted by other scientists.

In its work to end chimpanzee research in the U.S., Project R&R’s science team compiled scientific evidence identifying the limitations and problems of using chimpanzees as a means of studying human disease and health. These scientists and chimpanzee experts revealed that the use of chimpanzees was a dead end, an unproductive, unnecessary, cruel, and often dangerous route.

The Case to End Chimpanzee Research challenges the use of chimpanzees in research, including:

  • The inefficacy of results from chimpanzee research
  • The medical limitations and dangers of results, including attempts to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine
  • The enormous toll of life-long suffering that use and confinement takes on chimpanzees
  • The real possibility that the research could have and should have been done without chimpanzees

Growing evidence of invalidity

There is growing evidence that certain research findings derived from animal experiments—including experiments on chimpanzees—may not have been helpful, were in fact dangerous to humans, or could have been done without animals. Scientists who challenge the chimpanzee model argue that the problems begin with the erroneous assumptions used to justify the research. Challenges to existing research methods begin to establish scientific arguments against the use of chimpanzees and all animals in research.

All scientific methods of inquiry must be seen as fallible and evolving. If science does not challenge itself—continually—then it runs the risk of ceasing to be science and becoming dogma.

Resistance to change

Many institutions and researchers profited from the use of chimpanzees in research. Many chimpanzee researchers spent their lives committed to this model. When esteem, reputation, and money are at stake, objective and critical scrutiny becomes more difficult.

As consumer psychology informs us: the more you have spent, the more likely you are to “defend” your choice as a good one. Similarly, after years of doing chimpanzee research and of receiving millions of dollars in funding, it is the rare researcher who goes to work one day, acknowledges the limitations, the errors, and the cruelties of what he/she is about to do once again, and says, “No more.” Still, some joined the growing number of scientists who were committed to ending the use of chimpanzees and all great apes in intrusive biomedical research, and we now need scientists to again lend their powerful voices—this time to the argue that it is our moral and ethical obligation as a society to retire all former laboratory chimpanzees to sanctuary.

If you are a member of the scientific community and wish to contribute to Project R&R’s work, please contact us.

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