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"Exposing the truth to wipe
out animal experimentation"
From the Website of
the Chronicle of Higher Education
Animal-Rights Group Says NIH
Supports Unnecessary Duplication in Research
By RICHARD MORGAN
The National Institutes of Health
supports numerous projects involving animal
research that duplicate other projects and amount to a "waste" of
tax funds, an animal-rights group charges in a new report.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now, based in Cincinnati, released the report
Tuesday. The organization examined an NIH database -- Computer
Retrieval of Information on Scientific
Projects -- that compiles information on all
federally financed biomedical research projects at the NIH and other
agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
and searched for key words including
"mouse," "rat," "dog," "cat," "rabbit,"
"guinea," "hamster," "macaca" (the Latin name for macaques) and
"saimiri" (squirrel monkeys). The report does not include
animal testing conducted by or supported by
other federal agencies, like the National
The animal-rights group called its findings "very disturbing" and
"potentially catastrophic." It highlighted an exploration of
experiments dealing with cocaine addiction
-- 286 projects studying the effects of
cocaine in rats, 109 studying the same effects in mice, and 55
studying the same effects in macaques -- as
a prime example of the NIH's "bottomless pit
of duplication that accomplishes nothing other than
funneling hundreds of millions of tax dollars into the coffers
of nationally known laboratories" and ends
up "defrauding" taxpayers.
"The surgical maneuvers are the same. The issues being addressed and
measured are the same," said Michael A. Budkie, executive
director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now.
"They've had their chance. If they're just
doing the same thing over and over again, that's a problem. Even if
you don't care about the animals, you should
care about the money."
The group's audit, self-described as "conservative," also called into
question the ethics of members in the institutional
animal-care-and-use committees, which
oversee NIH grant approval, by casting them as "a good
ol' boys network where 'I'll approve your research if you'll
approve mine'" and where "it appears the
only real motivation may be to approve every
project because each additional grant brings more money into the
Although Stop Animal Exploitation Now acknowledged that its analysis
is limited in that it does not include
animal research based on NIH funds not drawn
from grants, like research contracts, and cannot represent all
federal spending on animal research, it defended its findings
by arguing that "there is no real reason to
believe that other entities, whether public
or private, are moving in any other direction."
Mr. Budkie said that the ultimate goal of his group is a total end to
animal experimentation, but that the organization takes a
"realistic" approach. He called the report,
which he said took six months to a year to
compile, "very, very accurate and thorough" and added that "the first
thing we need to do is eliminate these totally unnecessary
projects. And, as we demonstrated, there
are a lot of those out there."
Reached by telephone Tuesday, Don Ralbovsky, a spokesman for the NIH,
refused to comment on the report.
Anthony Mazzaschi, associate vice president of research at the
Association of American Medical Colleges, declined to comment
on NIH research specifically, but defended
duplicative research on the whole. "Some
research does need to be duplicated: one, to validate it, and two,
to extend the research results," he said, adding that
allegations of animal abuse or bureaucratic
glut is "really a gray area" and that
"obviously, the animal-rights group has an agenda, and they parrot
this out every once in a while."
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