Senate Committee Approves Great Ape Protection Act
Amendment Approved for Protocol to Use Chimpanzees for “New” Research
July 25, 2012: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works gave its approval to Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, S 810 (GAPSCA), moving it forward so that it can be considered by the full Senate. During the brief hearing, Senator James Imhofe (R-OK) raised concerns about prohibiting all future research on great apes and chimpanzees in particular.
Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) responded by offering the Boxer-Cardin Amendment, which “establishes a procedure for the approval of invasive research on great apes that is necessary to address a new, emerging, or reemerging disease.” GAPSCA, as it was introduced, was intended to ban ALL future research and this amendment qualifies that ban to possibly allow research as an option in the future. The amendment would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to first make a finding that the research is “necessary” before it could be approved. If the Secretary makes such a finding, the Secretary is required to set up a task force to evaluate and authorize the proposed research, using criteria recommended by the Institute of Medicine in the report “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity.” Neither Senators Cardin nor Barbara Boxer (D-CA) are current sponsors of GAPCSA.
The full impact of this provision is not yet determined; especially whether this new language would still make the legislation a viable tool in removing great apes from invasive research through retirement to sanctuaries. A more clear definition of what constitutes “new, emerging, or remerging disease” would be helpful, but the ceiling is set fairly high in the revised language. Specifically, under this amendment, the Secretary must find that “based on the best available scientific evidence, that a new, emerging, or reemerging disease or disorder presents a challenge to treatment, prevention, or control that defies non-great ape models and technologies and, as a result, the use of great apes for research may be required…”
The question is whether the proposed oversight by the Secretary of Health and Human Services will be sufficient to achieve an effective ban on research now and in the future. It may make this bill acceptable to Senators who have reservations about telling the National Institutes of Health that they will have to move forward without using great apes for invasive experiments.
|Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representative and ask them to SUPPORT this bill.