The United States is finally considering joining the rest of the world (except Gabon) in banning invasive experiments on chimpanzees. The Senate held hearings this week on the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (known as GAPCSA, H.R.1513/S.810), which would “end the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments and release federally owned chimpanzees to permanent sanctuaries” according to Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
More than 1,000 chimpanzees are locked up in U.S. labs, where they undergo often painful experiments and live in small metal cages. All this suffering is to no end: a recent report from The Institute of Medicine (the “health arm” of the National Academy of Sciences) found that experiments on chimpanzees are not necessary to advance human health. The report, titled Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research, concluded that “recent advances in alternate research tools have rendered chimpanzees largely unnecessary as research subjects.”
GAPCSA would permit non-invasive genomic and behavioral research, but such studies could be conducted in sanctuaries and other natural settings.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that the bill would save taxpayers $300 million over the next 10 years. It would end transport and breeding programs for all great apes intended for research, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons; ban federally funded chimpanzee breeding programs; and release 500 federally-owned chimps from labs into sanctuaries that would give them a better quality of life.
The next step for GAPCSA is a vote in the full Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, which is made up of one Senator each from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming. Residents of these and all other states can take action by signing the petition below and by contacting their senators directly.
Photo Credit: Nancy Megna