Created by on 9/3/2010 12:00:00 AM

On August 3rd, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced a Senate version the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA). The bill (S 3694), which is identical to that which was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2009, seeks to prohibit invasive research on great apes, defined as gibbons, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, and chimpanzees. “Invasive” is defined in such a way as to preclude the use of these animals in any biomedical research application. Despite the small number of great apes used in biomedical research, their role is extremely valuable. Chimpanzees remain the only valid research model for the development of a vaccine that could prevent infection from the hepatitis C virus.

Immediately after the bill was introduced, FASEB sent a letter to Senators Cantwell, Collins, and Sanders urging them to withdraw their support for the legislation. The letter, signed by FASEB President William Talman stated, “Passage of the Great Ape Protection Act will inhibit medical advances and the research community’s quest to improve human health through new treatments and vaccines.” It also stressed the rigorous oversight and the numerous laws and regulations governing the humane treatment of apes in research.

In addition, FASEB issued an e-action alert urging biomedical scientists to contact their Senators in response to the introduction of this bill. E-action subscribers living in the states of Washington, Maine, and Vermont were asked to urge their Senators to withdraw their support from the bill, while subscribers in all other states were encouraged to recommend that their Senators refrain from co-sponsoring the bill. The alert so far has generated 1,473 email messages to members of the Senate. FASEB encourages all Washington Updatereaders to take action on this important issue.