ALDF Calls On USDA to Investigate Potential Animal Welfare Act Violations in “Terror Tests” at University Of WisconsinPosted on August 14, 2014
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Controversial Maternal Deprivation Testing on Infant Monkeys May Have Skirted Approval Protocol
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
MADISON, Wis. — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to investigate possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act in the protocol-approval process for maternal deprivation studies on baby monkeys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Animal Welfare Act—the federal law that protects animals used for experiments in laboratories—requires each member of the approval committee to be provided notice of planned tests. Instead, as ALDF’s letter notes, the University’s Animal Care and Use Committees improperly delegated approval to only a few committee members rather than the full committees—which include a bioethicist opposed to these deprivation tests.
Dr. Ned H. Kalin’s experiments entail removing newborn rhesus macaques from anesthetized or restrained mothers. The infant primates are then confined in isolation for weeks, exposed to anxiety-inducing stressors including a live snake, and subjected to painful skin-punch biopsies and stressful brain scans. The babies are killed before they reach their second birthdays.
The end-goal of these experiments is to evaluate the difference in dissected brains between traumatized and non-traumatized infant monkeys. A growing consensus has criticized these tests for intentionally causing needless suffering of infants in order to study what has already been conclusively proven: that traumatic injury and the psychological experience of terror changes brain matter.
“These horrific experiments on infant monkeys have raised significant concerns from the public as well as from the university’s own review committee,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. “We urge the USDA to investigate the legality of a process in which a highly controversial set of tests were approved by only a few people on a committee, potentially over the heads of dissenting members.”
ALDF’s letter is available by request.