Oregon lawmaker fights for primates in wake of FDA Modernization Act
National Communications Coordinator
It sounds insane, the stuff of a horror movie that couldn’t possibly be real. In 2020, two monkeys, named Earthquake and Whimsy, were scalded to death after being left in a cage which was then placed in the sterilizing-hot water of an industrial washing machine. A more horrific death can hardly be imagined. It happened at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, which is associated with Oregon’s largest hospital. The nightmare is just one that has played out at the beleaguered facility, long the target of animal-welfare advocates.
Caged monkey at OHSU’s National Primate Research Center. Mike Perrault
Many other animals have died from neglect at this research center in Portland, which is run by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), an institution that has been cited for an astounding 31 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, with other such violations found after a monkey was killed when its head became wedged between PVC pipes and smaller animals died from hunger and dehydration.
OHSU has steadfastly denied wrongdoing, but sunlight is the best disinfectant, as one tenacious Oregon lawmaker discovered after receiving a mountain of documents revealing preventable cruelties at the Primate Research Center in his state. That lawmaker, Rep. David Gomberg, is now behind a bill calling for greater oversight of live animal experimentation labs.
“Reasonable people can disagree on whether using animals for medical research is scientifically valid or ethical,” Gomberg said in a recent news interview. “But we have to agree that it’s not being done very well here in Oregon.
It wasn’t being done well in Virginia either, where the lab Envigo was shut down last year for horrific animal-welfare violations, leaving scores of beagles bred for experimentation in need of homes. This debacle was the face of Animal Wellness Action’s campaign to end the federal mandate for testing live animals on new drug protocols before human trials. The FDA Modernization Act was signed into law in December last year, which effectively gives researchers much better choices for modern tools to save human lives, without horrific animal cruelty in its rear-view mirror.
The lab Envigo was shut down last year for horrific animal-welfare violations, leaving scores of beagles bred for experimentation in need of homes.