nvasive research on chimpanzees and other great apes could be banned in the United States under a proposal making its way through Congress. The legislation would phase out such research over three years unless it is deemed necessary for combating a human disease.

The legislation defines invasive research as any research that may cause death, injury, pain, distress, fear, or trauma to a great ape. This includes penetrating or cutting the animal’s body, restraining or anesthetizing a great ape, testing drugs that may be detrimental to the animal’s health or psychological well-being, or subjecting a great ape to isolation or social deprivation.

If enacted, the measure would allow for invasive research on great apes if deemed necessary by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. A task force would then be convened to review and authorize research proposals. Research would only be allowed if there is no other suitable research model available, if research could not ethically be performed on humans, or if the research is needed to avoid a significant slowing of scientific advancement.

The bill would also establish a fund in the United States Treasury to pay for the retirement of the approximately 500 chimps that are federally owned and currently housed in laboratories. In total, there are about one thousand chimps housed in laboratories in the U.S.

The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011 (S. 810) was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 25 July 2012.

 


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