In addressing the task, the committee explored existing and anticipated alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research. The committee based its findings and recommendations on available scientific evidence, published literature, public testimony, submitted materials by stakeholders, and a commissioned paper, as well as its expert judgment.
To conduct this expert assessment and evaluate the necessity for chimpanzees in research to advance the public’s health, the committee deliberated from May 2011 through November 2011. During this period, the committee held three 2-day meetings and several conference calls, including two public information-gathering sessions on May 26, 2011, and August 11-12, 2011. Each information-gathering session included testimony from individuals and organizations that both supported and opposed the continued use of chimpanzees. The committee also reviewed a number of background documents provided by stakeholder organizations and commissioned a paper, “Comparison of Immunity to Pathogens in Humans, Chimpanzees, and Macaques.”
The committee identified a set of core principles and criteria that were used to assess the necessity of chimpanzees for research now or in the future.
Neither the cost of using chimpanzees in research nor the ethical implications of that use were specifically in the committee’s charge. Rather, the committee was asked for its advice on the scientific necessity of the chimpanzee model for biomedical and behavioral research. The committee agrees that cost should not be a consideration. However, the committee feels strongly that any assessment of the necessity for using chimpanzees as an animal model in research raises ethical issues, and any analysis of necessity must take these ethical issues into account. The committee’s view is that the chimpanzee’s genetic proximity to humans and the resulting biological and behavioral characteristics not only make it a uniquely valuable species for certain types of research, but also demand a greater justification for conducting research using this animal model.