U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) praised action today by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on S. 810, the Great Apes Protection and Cost Savings Act. This bill would end invasive research and testing on approximately 1,000 chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories and retire the approximately 500 federally-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to permanent sanctuary, while saving taxpayers an estimated $30 million every year.
“I appreciate the careful consideration that the Committee has given to this bill and the important ethical issues it raises. Scientific studies have shown that chimpanzees are unnecessary for medical research in most cases. While there are too many unknowns to permanently eliminate an avenue of medical research, I believe the bill approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee is a strong step forward in the humane treatment of chimpanzees," said Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee that held a legislative hearing on the Great Apes Protection bill and other legislation considered by EPW Wednesday.
At the request of the NIH and in response to congressional inquiry, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (IOM) released a report in December 2011 analyzing the scientific necessity of using chimpanzees in NIH-funded biomedical and behavioral research. The report, Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity, concluded that while the chimpanzee has been a valuable animal model in the past, most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary. The report did not endorse an outright ban on chimpanzee research, however, noting the possibility that a future health threat could necessitate their use. Rather, it established a set of uniform criteria to guide current and future research use of chimpanzees.
Following the recommendations of the IOM and researchers, in coordination with the Humane Society of the United States and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Senator Cardin , along with Chairman Boxer, worked out a compromise so that S. 810, as approved by EPW, allows for the use of chimpanzee research in response to a future health threat. Under the compromise language, the use of chimpanzees may be authorized after review by an independent scientific task-force using parameters established by IOM.