Saturday, September 25, 2010
One battle to keep about 200 research chimpanzees in New Mexico has been won, but the war is not over.
The chimps, which have been retired from biomedical research for years, are targeted to be moved from the Alamogordo Primate Facility on Holloman Air Force Base to a primate facility in San Antonio, Texas, where they are again to be subjected to medical testing.
However, employees at the Alamogordo facility have received a short extension to their jobs. Gov. Bill Richardson, who has advocated for the animals to remain in New Mexico and in retirement, said he has been told the National Institutes of Health will extend the management contract for the Alamogordo facility through the end of 2011. It was scheduled to expire in May. The governor wants the facility to be converted into a permanent sanctuary, preferably owned by a nonprofit organization.
However, it appears the NIH has not backed off its intention for the chimps again to be subjected to biomedical research.
While chimps and humans have genetic similarities, they are sufficiently different on a cellular level that using them for research into infectious diseases has proven fruitless after decades of trying. Subjecting intelligent animals like these to needless and painful procedures is no longer acceptable in our society, especially when doing so produces no medical benefits.
The Physicians Committee, which includes several University of New Mexico faculty members, plans to petition Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on behalf of the chimps.
Let's hope Sebelius has a more open and compassionate mind than the NIH bureaucrats for whom the chimps are just numbers on an inventory report.
Source: ABQ Journal.com
Posted with permission from the Albuquerque Publishing Company.