Primate Expert Jane Goodall, Researchers Urge U.S. Wildlife Agency To Reject HIV/AIDS Experiments on Monkeys
Primate specialist Jane Goodall and 18 other researchers in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have called on the agency to reject a proposal by the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to conduct HIV/AIDS research on an endangered species of monkey that carries a form of HIV, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Stobbe, AP/Boston Globe, 6/23). Yerkes, based at Emory University in Atlanta, is proposing to help conserve sooty mangabeys in the African wild in exchange for permission to conduct HIV/AIDS research on captive sooties, which Yerkes scientists have cared for since the late 1960s, the AP/ABC News reports. Sooties were listed by U.S. officials as an endangered species in 1988. Yerkes in 2005 began providing up to $30,000 annually to a primatologist for sootie conservation and research efforts in the Tai National Park Reserve in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, according to the AP/ABC News. The center wrote to USFWS in July 2005 seeking to conduct HIV/AIDS research using its captive sooties, "given our contribution to sooty ... conservation," the AP/ABC News reports. Federal officials have said that a "trade off" request has never been permitted, the AP/ABC News reports (Stobbe, AP/ABC News, 6/23). According to the Goodall letter, approving such a proposal "could open the floodgates to future permit applications premised on allowing entities to kill or otherwise harm endangered species in exchange for making financial contributions to conservation programs" (AP/Boston Globe, 6/23). According to the AP/ABC News, Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and eight other advocacy organizations have submitted comments opposing Yerkes' application. Yerkes also argues that its captive sooties, a subspecies of the endangered white-collared mangabey, are not endangered and is asking USFWS to consider the subspecies separately. A Yerkes spokesperson said USFWS held a public comment period on the proposal from May 18 until June 19 (AP/ABC News, 6/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.