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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Workshop on ethics of monkey research earns cheers and boos

By David Grimm
Science Insider
Originally posted September 8, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Jeffrey Kahn, a bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the chair of the chimpanzee report, added that nonhuman primate research should only be conducted if it has to be conducted. “It’s not ethically acceptable to do research that is not necessary. Being ‘necessary’ is not the same as ‘worth doing.’”

That led to a debate about just what constituted “necessary” and “moral justification.” Even research that doesn’t have an immediate translation to people—like figuring out how the monkey brain works—is necessary, argued Newsome, because it could eventually lead to significant new knowledge that might improve human health. “It will be a tragedy for the world if we don’t leave room for basic science.” Most attendees seemed to agree, with some stating that not doing research on monkeys was ethically indefensible because humans would suffer down the line.

Despite that ethical debate, animal welfare groups said they were upset that science—not welfare—dominated the workshop. Of the 13 speakers, eight make their living working with nonhuman primates. The workshop also only devoted 2 minutes—instead of its scheduled 30 minutes—to public comments. “We are extremely disappointed that no animal protection groups were invited,” wrote Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for The Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., in an email to ScienceInsider. “It is clear that NIH has not followed through on what Congress requested, which was to examine ethical policies and processes.”

The article is here.