Photo: Chimpanzee being used for space research by the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s.
The Institute of Medicine convened an ad hoc committee to answer two important questions:
- Is biomedical research with chimpanzees “necessary for research discoveries and to determine the safety and efficacy of new prevention or treatment strategies?”
- Is behavioral research using chimpanzees “necessary for progress in understanding social, neurological and behavioral factors that influence the development, prevention, or treatment of disease?”
The committee was asked to consider only scientific questions, not questions related to ethics or costs. The committee’s report concluded that most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary and that the National Institutes of Health should put strict limits on the use of chimpanzees as research subjects. The NIH has already announced a freeze on new grants for chimpanzee experimentation.
Some members of Congress want to outlaw all experimentation on great apes, including chimpanzees (H.R. 1513: The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act).
Update: H.R. 1513 was not enacted.