There are approximately 1800 reasons (the number of monkeys and other primates held captive and submitted to brutal invasive research by Harvard) to protest Harvard's New England Regional Primate Research Center this Saturday, but here's our top ten.
1. In 2007, The European Union Parliament voted to support a ban on all primate research with a 5-6 year phase out. Although the vote is non-binding, it acts as a strong recommendation to the EU Commission that governs research. It also shows that a majority of EU legislators don't see that the medical merits of primate research outweigh the cruelty to the animals.
2. By contrast, Harvard has increased its number of primates by at least 10-15% in the last 10 years (it is hard to give exact figures because Harvard recordkeeping is so varied that one year recently they had a "discrepancy" of 1200 primates).
3. Harvard is one of the few medical institutions in the country to still use electric shock on primates. One of the most common uses of electric shock is as a threat to force monkeys to take addictive drugs. Denial of food is another "methodology" used to force monkeys to take drugs.
4. Harvard seems to thrive on addicting animals to recreational drugs, having published over 75 papers on cocaine addiction alone. One does not have to be a graduate of Harvard to realize that studying recreational drug use in species who do not naturally take those drugs and who are forced to take them is both just plain sick and useless.
5. In 2004, a monkey choked to death at Harvard because he/she (sorry for the lack of gender specificity but the USDA report calls the poor animal "it") suffocated on a piece of plastic tubing while locked alone in a restraint chair while the vivisector literally went to lunch. Weak as the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) is, even it forbids leaving a primate alone in a restraint chair. Somehow we doubt that that vivisector was going out for a veggie burger.
6. NERPRC's Director Ronald Derosiers was on the "scientific advisory" board that claimed that the BU bioterror lab was both essential and safe. In recent conversations that we have had with a Boston Globe reporter, we've learned that NERPRC has claimed that they "did not, do not, and will never" have any financial connection to the Bioterror lab. This is more than a little bit odd because Desrosiers has admitted publicly that BU had promised NERPRC 3.1 million dollars to build a lab to "produce" primates for BU's bioterror lab. If they can't tell the truth about money, they won't tell the truth about anything else either.
7. Primates in labs suffer health problems and stress-related problems unknown in wild primates. Basic science says that experiments can only have one independent variable: if an animal is already sick or extremely stressed out (stress impairs the immune system), then experiments with this animal have multiple independent variables. In simple terms, the science sucks. It is so severe of a problem in lab animal populations that in 2003, 20% of the primates at NERPRC were involved in studies not of human health problems but of lab animal health problems!
8. That same study revealed that 89% of those primates suffered "psychological abnormalities", 1 in 4 injured themselves, and 1 in 9 injured themselves badly enough to need stitches. Bizarrely, monkeys that pulled their own hair weren't even counted as injuring themselves (Lutz, Well, and Novak 2003.
9. No laws regulate what actually happens in experiments. This is left up to in-house supposedly independent IACU committees that are supposed to review studies for animal cruelty (not that they'd ever use that word.) The industry argues that these committees prevent abuses and assure that animals are not harmed. In the 2004-2006 period, Harvard Medical School accumulated 11 violations of the AWA directly related to these IACU committees. This means that either the committees failed to do their job properly or that the vivisectors blatantly ignored the committees. This just proves what many animal law experts have repeatedly stated: no laws or regulations whatsoever really control what happens to animals in labs.
10. If you took PSYCH 101, you may remember the notorious Milgram experiments in which humans were manipulated into "shocking" subjects in supposed "negative reinforcement" experiments. The "shocking" was faked by professional actors out of sight of the subjects so no one was actually harmed in an experiment designed to see how far people would go in obeying authority even when it had destructive consequences. In multiple versions of the experiment done for decades around the world, between 60-65% of the subjects would have actually knowingly killed the other person if the shocks were real. In one version, 93% would have killed the other person. The only pressure on the human subjects was peer pressure.
By contrast, some sick soul designed a test (at we're sure taxpayer expense) to see if monkeys would shock other monkeys in order to get food. If they shocked the other monkey, they got food; if they didn't shock the monkey they didn't eat. Multiple monkeys refused to harm the other monkey even though it meant that they would go hungry. One monkey went 4 days straight without food (by comparison this would be like us going 20 days without food) rather than harm another monkey and several went 2 days. Observations of chimps (Note-Harvard has no chimps that we know of) in the wild have shown that they take special care of group members with disabilities such as cerebral palsy with even the alpha males taking time to groom and nurture a monkey with cerebral palsy.
Our whole human justification for subjecting these animals to the brutal nightmare of their squandered existence is that we are morally superior to them and can do what we want to them. Don't these 3 studies show the lie behind all vivisection?
Please join us this Saturday at Harvard to protest these atrocities.