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Watchdog group sues US health agency for withholding animal testing records and videos

The research involves, among other practices, destroying parts of monkeys’ brains, locking them in restraint devices, and filming reacting to rubber snakes and spiders to gauge their fear.

CARLIN BECKER: ‘A taxpayer watchdog is slapping the Department of Health and Human Services with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit after the agency failed to provide requested records and videos related to its animal testing. White Coat Waste Project sued the department, which houses the National Institutes of Health, last month. The organization filed FOIA requests for documents related to intramural primate experiments conducted by NIH twice last year. After months of attempts to gain the public records, NIH stopped responding and has not provided the materials.

In the lawsuit obtained by the Washington Examiner, White Coat Waste Project claimed NIH acknowledged that it videotaped the experiments and confirmed the existence of the footage to the taxpayer watchdog. The research involves, among other practices, destroying parts of monkeys’ brains and locking them in restraint devices. The animals are then filmed reacting to rubber snakes and spiders to gauge their fear, observed watching clips from “commercially produced nature documentaries,” and observed to see if they can tell the difference between photos of monkeys’ faces and pieces of fruit.

The primate experiments have been conducted since 1977 and have cost taxpayers around a combined $95 million just since 2007. One of the grants that funds these experiments is in its 43rd year of funding as NIH continues to spend more tax dollars experimenting on primates than any other government agency. “We’re suing the NIH for the tapes because taxpayers — a majority of whom oppose animal testing — have a right to see exactly how their money is being squandered on this nonsense,” Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy for White Coat Waste Project, told the Washington Examiner.

The lawsuit comes after the organization filed a complaint against NIH in October requesting an investigation into the agency’s pattern of violating spending transparency laws at all seven taxpayer-funded National Primate Research Centers across the country… “Taxpayers are sick and tired of the government’s multimillion-dollar monkey business, like giving primates brain damage and then scaring them with rubber snakes and spiders,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, told the Washington Examiner’.  SOURCE…

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