The National Primate Liberation Week should be renamed “Let’s Keep Humans Suffering Week,” as its goal is to end medical research on monkeys and other primates.
If we did that, tremendous strides to alleviate human suffering would be thwarted. Here is just a very short and partial list of research on monkeys, most about which I have written, that has led to—or offers great hope for—the alleviation of tremendous human suffering:
- Constrained Induced Movement Therapy, which allows people with numbed limbs from stroke to regain the use of their limbs. It is now being tried to help children with cerebral palsy. Yet, in the notorious and mendacious Silver Spring Monkey Case, PETA tried to ruin the life of Dr. Edward Taub, whose humanitarianism led to this breakthrough because early research was conducted on monkeys.
- Paralyzed people are learning to use robotic arms with their minds after electrodes were implanted in their brains, experiments that would not have been possible but for earlier monkey research.
- Scientists have learned that one brain cell can restore movement in paralyzed people. Only research on monkeys can determine whether the research can lead to human treatments.
- Sight might one day be restored to the blind with implants—which were first tested in monkeys.
- Monkey testing has permitted botulinim to become, just a few days ago, an FDA approved treatment for chronic migraines.
- Monkey testing showed that adult stem cells might be useful in treating Parkinson’s.
- Chimpanzee research was necessary to, and helped perfect, the hepatitis vaccine.
- Monkey research proved that a gene therapy technique was deadly. Not heeding the message led to the death of Jesse Gelsinger, who was given the therapy despite the monkey deaths.
It’s not pleasant to contemplate, but primate research is vitally necessary to the advance of human medicine. As Dr. Edward Taub told me in my research for A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy:
“We have two sides of the scale to ponder,” he told me. “On one side is the real and potential hope that animal research offers to countless suffering human beings. On the other, is the difficult knowledge that obtaining many of these benefits means that some animals will be harmed.” Taub has it exactly right. Animal rights/liberationists believe that monkeys matter as much as stroke victims and children with disabilities. People like Taub and this author believe that the suffering of animals is a serious issue that should never be considered lightly or undertaken for frivolous reasons. But alleviating the suffering of human beings and promoting human thriving matters most. That, in a nutshell, is the nub of the entire animal rights debate
That is indeed the unpleasant choice. Of course the projects should be carefully designed. Of course, they should comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Of course, they should not be done frivolously. But in the end, I choose humans.