Chimp research is unethical, says Maryland representative

Experimenting on your relatives is not cool. (Flickr/Afrika Expeditionary Force)

Since experimenting on humans is out of fashion — for the most part, anyway — chimpanzees must stand in our place for the sake of scientific advancement. But Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican (!) representative from Maryland, thinks it's time we stopped pricking, prodding, and generally torturing and killing our closest living relatives just so we can cure stuff that kills us.

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Bartlett is sponsoring legislation that will phase out invasive research on chimps, on the grounds that it harms the animals — which, of course, it does. Once a physiologist at the Navy's School of Aviation Medicine, he invented a series of respiratory devices that were tested on primates, one of whom died. In an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday, he wrote:

At the time, I believed such research was worth the pain inflicted on the animals. But in the years since, our understanding of its effect on primates, as well as alternatives to it, have made great strides, to the point where I no longer believe such experiments make sense — scientifically, financially or ethically.

As the documentary Project Nim proves, chimps really are just like humans. They feel pain and stress, generally loathe social isolation, and of course they fight, screw, drink and even smoke pot:

[NBC via NYTimes]

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