In Case You Missed It: Chimpanzee Retirement: Facts, Myths, and Motivation

A few weeks ago, Allyson J. Bennett posted an excellent piece at Speaking of Research, titled Chimpanzee Retirement: Facts, Myths and Motivation.

It contains factual information about chimpanzees living at National Primate Research Centers and is accompanied by some terrific photos. Dr. Bennett points out very well the problem with misrepresentations seen recently in the media, such as this CNN.com piece, and elsewhere about chimpanzees’ current housing and care at research facilities.

Please click here to take a look.

Research Responds to Critics in Today’s “Congress Blog”

Today, February 23, the Congressional news website, The Hill, featured an insightful and interesting pro-research piece in its “Congress Blog” entitled, “Childhood adversity needs more research, not less.”

In the op-ed, Paul McKellips, the Executive Vice President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, defends the humane use of animal models, like primates and rodents, in studying childhood stress to help determine and treat behavioral and emotional problems in adulthood from critics. Animal rights groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have targeted this important effort with advertisements, letter writing campaigns, and Congressional staff briefings.

McKellips writes, “Unfortunately, that research is under attack. Some activists claim that it's needlessly cruel. It's not. What is cruel, however, is shutting down a line of scientific inquiry that may help scientists mitigate -- or even reverse -- the effects of childhood psychological adversity.”

To read McKellips’ piece, please click here.

British Heart Foundation Responds to Opponents of Animal Research

Last weekend in the United Kingdom, the Waltham Forest Animal Protection group mounted a demonstration against the British Heart Foundation (BHF) over funding cardiac research with animal models and the BHF responded.

Simon Gillespie, the chief executive of BHF, responded to protesters saying, “The majority of lifesaving medical advances that today benefit millions of heart patients involved research involving animals,” adding, “At the BHF, we’re dedicated to saving lives by developing better treatments and cures for heart and circulatory conditions that affect the lives of more than seven million people across the UK.”

To read the February 18 news report, please click  here.

Scientists Disappointed by Science’s Coverage of PETA Operative

NABR President Frankie Trull registered disappointment with Science for its decision to publish “The Insurgent,” a feature-length profile of Justin Goodman, the director of laboratory investigations at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The January 23 piece was later referenced online by Science Careers. For an “historical perspective,” the Science online daily news site as well as the careers section, ran a slideshow depicting some of PETA’s campaigns.

NABR’s January 27 letter to AAAS CEO Alan Leshner and Science Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt said in conclusion, “The Insurgent” is tantamount to an advertisement for both Goodman and PETA, serving only to boost exposure and give credibility for their long history of anti-science rhetoric and direct action against researchers. For years, many biomedical researchers, their staff, and their families, have been egregiously targeted by PETA and understandably are demoralized by the direction Science has taken. We are disappointed that Science chose to glamorize the actions of Goodman and PETA, and it is our sincerest hope that AAAS and Science will cease the promotion of those wishing us and our work harm.” NABR encourages others to express your opinion to Science about this article.

Please note that AAALAC Executive Director Christian Newcomer’s letter to the editor of Science, "A Defense of Animal Welfare Accreditation,” appeared in the January 16 issue. His letter responds to another controversial Science news article by the same author, David Grimm, which related Goodman and PETA’s criticism of the effectiveness of animal welfare accreditation. Among other excellent examples of the flaws in Goodman’s “study” of the AAALAC program, Newcomer points out that Goodman refused to share with Grimm and Science readers the actual data on which reported criticisms are based.

Poll: American Public Support for Animal Research on the Rise

According to a new poll conducted by Zogby Analytics released this week, almost 58% of adults surveyed support the ethical and humane use of animals in biomedical research.  Public support has jumped 12 points in the past five months.

"The rise in public opinion support seems to coincide with the arrival of Ebola to American shores and the emergence of a measles outbreak," says Paul McKellips, executive vice president at the Foundation for Biomedical Research in Washington. "When infectious diseases or other incurable conditions reach our doorstep, we're reminded that scientists and researchers need to use animal models to develop vaccines, antibiotics, therapies and cures that are safe and effective."

To read more about the poll, please click here.

Scientific Societies Support NIH Nonhuman Primate Research

The nation’s largest primatological scientific society, the American Society of Primalogists (ASP), has made a strong statement in support of the scientist and research under attack by PETA.  The January 21 letter from the ASP Board of Directors to Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-CA) and the NIH Director can be found at ASP’s website.  The American Psychological Association (APA), the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U. S., also expressed their strong support for the targeted psychology researcher and his work to interested members of Congress and the NIH.  The APA Science Directorate statement is available online along with their January 21 letter. Speaking of Research subsequently posted NIH’s defense, the scientific society letters of support and their own comments about the necessity of responsible nonhuman primate research.

Regrettably, PETA is not listening.  Despite NIH’s transparent review of the subject research with clear explanation of its purpose and benefits, and respected scientists’ support for it, PETA went ahead with its January 27 “briefing” and vegan lunch on Capitol Hill to which congressional staff were invited.  Approximately 40 people attended, including PETA and other animal rights organization members; staff from the offices of December 22 letter writers; and other congressional staff, some of whom were curious to see how PETA would conduct itself.  The event was sponsored by Rep. Roybal-Allard, who made a statement (written copy unavailable).  The only other speakers were PETA representatives:  actor James Cromwell, University of New Mexico professor emeritus John Gluck, College of William and Mary anthropology professor Barbara King and neuroscientist Kathleen Roe from PETA’s laboratory investigation division.   No mention was made by speakers of NIH’s review of the work and official response.  According to Nature’s complete report of the event, despite NIH and scientific community support for the research involved, neither Rep. Roybal-Allard nor PETA are satisfied and intend to continue pursuing the issue.  The only other media coverage of PETA’s briefing to be found was a National Public Radio (NPR) blog posting by speaker Barbara King, who seemed to confuse this staff lunch briefing with a congressional hearing on the record.

FDA Commissioner Leaving Agency in March

After almost six years leading the Food and Drug Administration, Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg announced that she will be leaving the post in March, leaving behind a legacy of improving food safety and speeding-up drug approvals.  Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA’s chief scientist, is expected to be her temporary replacement.

Hamburg said in an interview that she is leaving the FDA because “this is a difficult and demanding job where you’re buffeted by all sorts of points of view.”  Several controversial issues were tackled by FDA during her tenure such as the approval of Plan B morning-after contraceptives for teens and tackling compounding pharmacies.

Please continue to visit www.NABR.org for more updates.

Today is Veterinary Medicine Day in Georgia!

On January 28, the Georgia State Senate passed SR90, legislation marking today, February 4, 2015, as Veterinary Medicine Day at the state capitol.  

The resolution commends all veterinarians for the scientific knowledge and skills they put forward towards the protection of animal health and for their commitment to the betterment of the animal world.

SR90 acknowledges the importance of veterinary medicine by proclaiming, “veterinarians use their scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge,” adding that they, “protect, promote, and preserve the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Georgia.”

NABR President’s Op-Ed on Ebola Research in Baltimore Sun

On Friday, January 30, NABR President Frankie Trull submitted an op-ed piece for the Baltimore Sun titled, “Look to animals to cure Ebola.”

In her editorial, Trull discusses the importance of nonhuman primates (NHP) in the race to find a treatment for Ebola, a virus that has claimed more than 8,600 lives and infected thousands more in West Africa.  She also discusses how animal research has been influential in contributing to advances in defeating HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, Alzheimer’s, avian flu, SARS, and other human and veterinary health challenges.

Please click here to read the op-ed.

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