March 29, 2005 • Posted in Related News
The Boston Globe, 03/29/05—NEAVS’ response: Dr. Ray Greek, MD, Scientific Advisor
“Cruelty charges dropped against Charles River Labs” (March 29) reminds us that researchers and laboratories using chimpanzees must be forced to justify their use of taxpayer and charity money. The US remains the world’s only major user of chimpanzees, a distinction we may wish to reconsider.
While there have always been ethical objections to the use of chimpanzees by researchers, we now realize there is a lack of scientific justification as well. For instance, because chimpanzees respond differently than humans to HIV infection, research on them led to the distribution of contaminated blood into human populations. That’s just one, but deadly, example.
Despite similarities to us, chimpanzees are different enough to make research results from them extremely limited in value. Such results are misleading and therefore dangerous to humans or outright irrelevant. Practically speaking, for example, the use of chimpanzees to study AIDS has all but been abandoned after decades of dead end research.
Rather than continue the unproductive, expensive and socially contentious use of chimpanzees, scientists should avail themselves of advanced research modalities conducive to twenty-first century problems. We need cures for AIDS, cancer, and other diseases and we are not going to get them from chimpanzees.
Ray Greek, MD
Scientific Advisor to the New England Anti-Vivisection Society