Why Experiments On
Monkeys (And Other Non Human Primates) Are Of No Value To Doctors Or Patients
Coleman MB ChB DSc
Vivisectors make many
pseudoscientific claims. (Whether they do this through ignorance or through a
malignant desire to mislead I do not know.) One of the commonest is to claim
that experiments on non-human primates are essential for discovering new ways to
I have for many years stated firmly that no experiments
performed on animals have ever been of value to doctors or patients. (No
vivisector has ever disproved this statement). Experiments on monkeys are no
exception to this. Experiments on non-human primates are as dangerously
misleading and utterly pointless as experiments performed on rats, mice and
And yet the merciless abuse of monkeys and other primates continues
For example, rhesus (or macaque) monkeys are commonly used in
* At Columbia University in the USA,
electrical wires were inserted into the eyes of monkeys so that their eye
movements could be recorded.
* At the University of California, Davis,
USA, the brains of monkeys were surgically exposed and then directly injected
with acid in order to destroy certain areas. The monkeys' ability to learn was
* At the University of Connecticut, electrodes were screwed
into monkeys' brains. The monkeys were then trained to perform visual tasks
(often involving electrical stimulation).
Other experiments on monkeys
are described in my books (such as Animal Experiments: Simple
It seems appalling that scientists in any so-called
civilised society should be allowed to perform such experiments. Even if
experiments on monkeys were essential (which they are not) it would surely be
difficult for any sentient human being to defend them.
often claim that monkeys are very similar to human beings. They say that monkeys
are like people but need not be treated like people. If this is true then how
long will it be before vivisectors are to be heard justifying experiments
performed on humans with low IQs? Anyone with a friend or relative who is
intellectually disadvantaged should be very concerned about the use of monkeys
in experiments. Dr Mengele's successors are ready and waiting.)
experiments on monkeys are not essential. And they are downright
As Dr Aysha Akhtar and Dr Jarrod Bailey have recently pointed
out the human brain is far more complex (both anatomically and physiologically)
than the brain of the monkey. It takes much longer for a human brain to develop.
The human cortex has ten times the surface area of that of a monkey. Similar
areas of the brain perform very different functions in humans and monkeys. And
the number of synapses (connections) made by human neurons is far greater than
the number made by the neurons of rhesus monkeys. Some parts of the human brain
simply do not exist in monkeys. Eighty per cent of proteins are different to
some degree in chimpanzees as compared with humans. Fundamental differences in
the symptoms and pathology of Parkinson's disease exist between humans and
In short, the differences between species are far
greater, and far more important, than the similarities. To obtain useful
information about the human brain scientists must work on humans - not on
And it is perfectly possible to perform all the necessary
experiments on humans quite ethically.
Centres such as Princeton
University, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania and
Minnesota State University in the USA all use scans and MRIs to map and monitor
the human brain and to collect relevant data on how the human brain works.
It is with these tools - not through cruel and pointless experiments on
animals - that doctors can help patients suffering from neurological disorders.
Major breakthroughs in neurology have come through epidemiology,
clinical studies, genetic research, human tissue studies and
If you want to know more than I suggest that you visit the
excellent website produced by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
(www.pcrm.org). In particular I recommend two excellent papers by Dr Jarrod
Bailey and Dr Aysha Akhtar (`Non-Human Primates in Medical Research: Sensible or
Dispensable?' and `Neurological Experiments: Monkey See...But Not Like Humans'
respectively) which are available and which are supported by many scientific
Vernon Coleman's books on animal experimentation
(including his latest Animal Experiments: Simple Truths) are available
from the shop on this website. Several of these books are available free for
downloading. Bulk copies of Animal Experiments:Simple Truths are
available at much reduced prices.
Copyright Vernon Coleman December