Re: SOC/LAW: Chimp Rights

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sat Feb 05 2000 - 09:11:42 MST

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:

> > >And doing so is not without cost: medical research on chimps
> > >has made real differences in all our lives.
> >
> > I suppose it must have made some difference for some lives,
> > but I have doubts that it is much difference for most lives.
> > What evidence would you offer for this claim?
> The Foundation for Biomedical Research <>
> is a good place to start; they are an advocacy group, but they do
> generally have their facts straight.
> It is true that most medical research on primates is not done
> with great apes but rather with monkeys like tamarins and macaques

That page's facts are mainly: one of
the Medical Nobels listed from 1901 to 1998 used a great
ape: chimps.

> [insert generic "slippery slope" argument here]. It
> is also true that the number of people who can specifically
> trace improvements in their lives to specific uses of primate
> medical research are probably few. But to judge the true impact
> of this research, you have to include everyone who might have
> contracted a disease but for a vaccine tested or researched on
> apes (AIDS is a major one but not the only), or who had any such
> ancestor, or who benefited from an advance by one of those people,
> or who benefited from an advance by someone who was affected by
> one of those people...

Since you mention AIDS, I'll mention that AIDS may have been causedby
developing polio vaccine from chimp livers (see Hooper's book
The River.)

Here are the questions to ask:
1) How much have vaccines contributed to health?
2) How much have great apes contributed to vaccines, over and above
what could have been done with other animals?

The answer to the first question seems to be: suprisingly low.
I suspect the answer to the second question has a similar answer.

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