UPDATE December 30, 2020: As a result of our investigation, Congress has directed the NIH to commission an independent study by the National Academies of the NIH’s intramural primate testing and how modern alternatives can reduce their use. This direction is in the NIH’s 2021 funding bill (see page 69). You can read more about this and other WCW wins for animals and taxpayers in the government’s 2021 funding bill in our new blog!
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This past December, White Coat Waste Project (WCW) sued the National Institutes of Health (NIH) after it refused to release videos and other materials related to wasteful and bizarre psychological experiments on primates that have cost taxpayers nearly $100 million just since 2007. Now, we know what they were trying to hide: a taxpayer-funded fear factory.
As reported in The Washington Times, “The White Coat Waste Project released video Monday that it pried loose from the National Institutes of Health showing the experiments, which the activists said have yet to produce drugs or cures for ailments.”
Never-before-seen videos released to WCW depict distraught monkeys chained by the neck in tiny cages being tormented with rubber spiders and mechanical snakes, objects the primates instinctively fear, just to observe their reactions. NIH “white coats” sucked out parts of these monkeys’ brains or destroyed them with toxic acid to intentionally worsen the primates’ fear. In the video, a callous NIH “white coat” can be heard joking, “Where the hell is the dancing monkey?,” after one of the tests on the terrified monkeys ends.
These videotaped experiments at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland have cost taxpayers over $16 million since 2007, and $1.7 million in 2019 alone.
According to the documents, 149 monkeys are slated to be used in this single project. The NIH writes that 60 of these animals will be purchased new and the rest obtained via the “NIH NHP [nonhuman primate] Recycling Program,” meaning instead of being retired from testing, they were transferred from other experiments. The documents state that some of the transferred monkeys have been given brain damage, have restraint posts screwed into their skulls and have electrodes implanted into their brains. Footage of these monkeys has not yet been released to WCW, and the Law Office of Matthew Strugar continues to fight NIH on WCW’s behalf to secure the tapes’ release.
In December, Congress and the President enacted first-ever legislation directing the NIH to report by the end of 2020 on its efforts to reduce and replace wasteful primate testing. These experiments are Exhibit A for why reforms are so badly needed.
Is this how you want your money spent? Tell Congress to cut funding for wasteful NIH primate testing that is irrelevant to human health and opposed by a growing majority of taxpayers.