The Board of Directors of Americans for Medical Progress (AMP)[1], met for their annual business meeting on September 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. I attended the meeting as one of the Directors. AMP’s mission is to “protect society’s investment in research by nurturing public understanding of and support for the humane, necessary and valuable use of animals in medicine,” which has become increasingly important with the increasing prevalence of misinformation distributed by animal rights extremists, and activists intent on banning the use of animals in biomedical research.

AMP provides accurate and incisive information to foster a balanced public debate on the animal research issue, ensuring that among the voices heard are those whose lives have been touched by research and those who work in the field.

Despite those laudable goals, the public’s concern about, and disapproval of, the use of animals in research has been continuously growing.

As I mentioned to the Board, I believe that if the public became aware that the animal rights’ movement is actually more harmful than helpful to animals owned and cared for by humans, public sentiment would shift back toward support of biomedical research that saves the lives of animals and humans alike.

On September 27, 2015, an article in the New York Times, described that very concern. In Protecting Apes Could Backfire author Peter D. Walsh described the plight of researchers developing vaccines to protect chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates against Ebola virus and other infectious diseases.  The research has been effectively terminated, because safety and efficacy studies required for approval can no longer be performed on captive chimpanzees without permits and approvals that research institutions have not yet applied for, presumably out of fear of retribution from activists.

As Walsh explained:

Captive trials like ours could be permitted under the new endangered species listing [adding captive chimpanzees to that list], which took effect on Sept. 14. But invasive procedures (drawing blood, for instance, or administering injections) now require a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service. These permits will be issued only for research that benefits chimpanzees in the wild.

Not a single research facility has applied for a permit so far. Whether any will is still unclear. One reason may be that it would be sure to attract the vocal opposition of those opposed to biomedical research on chimpanzees.

Walsh appeals to the research community and officials to develop more creative mechanisms to permit such research.

My concern is more universal.

Biomedical research, as previously described, benefits both humans and animals. Limiting research to the benefit of only one species will diminish its value to all. While scientists continue to develop methods and techniques that minimize the need to use animals in research, such use continues to be of paramount importance to all species.

[1] AMP is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit charity supported by the nation’s top universities, private research facilities, research-related businesses, scientific and professional societies, as well as by foundation grants and contributions by individuals.