Shortly before the 115th Congress adjourned, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Dec. 18, 2018, introduced the Primate Protection and Research Modernization Act of 2018 (S. 3773). The bill, which has not yet been reintroduced in the 116th Congress, would severely restrict and potentially terminate the use of nonhuman primate models in biomedical research.
The bill aims to reduce the use of nonhuman primates by prohibiting testing and research on nonhuman primates for consumer goods and products, and by requiring a “standing committee’s” approval for their use as part of any research grant renewal and in all new nonhuman primate research. The committee would be required to consist of federal employees from the departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, or Defense; ethologists or individuals with expertise in nonhuman primate behavior and psychology; individuals with expertise in nonanimal research methods; clinicians; and individuals representing “the interests of nonhuman primates.”
In addition, approval of research by the standing committee would be contingent upon various factors, including housing in an “ethologically appropriate environment.” The bill also requires the National Academy of Sciences to review existing fields of research and determine whether nonhuman primate research has “an established history of advancing the field of research and resulted in meaningful clinical interventions.” Nonhuman primates are currently used in research on dozens of diseases, including but not limited to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, heart disease, and cancer.