Audit: Primate research is useless, brutal

UCD officials say research is necessary for improving animal, human health


An independent audit of the nationís top research laboratories was released this week, which included significant mention of UC Davisí California National Primate Research Center. According to a news release, the audit suggests that much of the research done at the center is cruel to animal subjects, redundant, useless and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit research watchdog organization that conducted the audit, revealed its findings of the top 50 U.S. facilities which receive the most federal funding. SAEN ranked the CNPRC 20th nationally, claiming the center receives $148 million annually.

Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, said the report indicates that many research centers engage in needless projects and conduct invasive studies that cause animals severe pain and distress.

"Itís shocking that labs across the nation which receive billions in federal tax dollars are allowed to conduct useless research which accomplishes little more than keeping Ďscientistsí employed," he said in a press release.

Deniene Erickson, spokesperson from the CNPRC, said the center places a great importance on conducting fair research on animals.

"We care about our animals, and our work is worthwhile," she said. "It is very important for our work in AIDS, autism, asthma, and so on."

Research at the primate center also includes the study of the brain, HIV and vaccines.

UCD spokesperson Andy Fell discredited the auditís claims, saying SAENís primary goal is to ban all animal research.

"This is not exactly an independent audit because it is from this organization," Fell said. "The primate center is inspected by the USDA and [Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International]. The USDA is legally obligated to inspect the center, and they can come in at any time."

The audit report not only claims that the primate center is cruel to animals, but that the actual research is pointless.

"UC Davis research is highly redundant, scientifically meaningless and excruciating for the victimized monkeys," the release said. "We want taxpayers in California and the rest of the country to see exactly what they are getting for the millions of dollars that fund UC Davis research."

Fell noted that repeating research is often necessary.

"The point is that you have to do research. You do something similar that someone has already done because it might be taken in a different direction, or you can build on past research," he said.

Erickson pointed out that researchers at the primate center are not duplicating, but verifying their work through several experiments.

The primate center, founded in 1962, is part of a network of eight primate facilities in the nation. Though highly regarded for its research in improving human and animal health, the center has repeatedly been called out by animal rights organizations for alleged animal cruelty.