The Great Ape Protection Act of 2009 (HR 1326) was introduced in the House in March, 2009. The bill would limit research using covered great apes - including chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, and gibbons - by making it illegal for the federal government to fund great ape research and requiring the permanent retirement of federally-owned covered great apes under all circumstances. The Act also prohibits the transport and breeding of covered apes for the purposes of invasive research. By completely barring the federal government from funding certain types of research, the bill would preclude federal access to crucial primate resources even in the event of a national emergency. Additionally as the nation's biomedical research enterprise moves toward translational research and predictive medicine, it is important to maintain a population of animals that are aging and whose genome is as close to humans as possible. These non-human primates are a critical animal model. Eliminating them from research will restrict advances in human medicine. Many countries rely on U.S. partnerships and other collaborative agreements because we are the only country still performing research on chimpanzees - a fact often used to argue that the U.S. should also ban research on chimpanzees. A number of scientific organization, including ASPET, oppose the Great Ape Protection Act of 2009 . While it is not clear if any further action will be taken on this legislation - especially with health care reform and a full legislative agenda consuming lawmakers, pressure to act favorably on it might increase with additional interest, congressional sponsors, and active advocacy efforts by animal rights organizations.
We welcome your comments on the value of this research and impressions on the use of animals in research.