Target: Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard Board of Overseers, Harvard Corporation, United States Department of Agriculture eastern regional director Elizabeth Goldentyer, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, US Congress
Goal: Suspend Harvard’s animal research license and demand a complete disclosure of their animal testing safety procedures.
The Harvard Crimson reported that nine animals died in Harvard-affiliated laboratories in the past two years due to researcher negligence at multiple facilities. Most recently, Harvard Medical School’s New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) was cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the October 2011 death of a netted primate after undergoing an imaging procedure – as well as a host of other Animal Welfare Act violations. The USDA report also cited unsuitable living conditions for primates and signs of psychological distress, including hair loss and unusual behavior. In June 2010, a deceased primate was found by NEPRC staff only after its dirty cage had been mechanically washed with water reaching up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit – with the tragic creature still inside it. Another primate suffered an anesthesia overdose leading to kidney failure. NEPRC staff euthanized the languishing animal.
Additional deaths at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the McLean Hospital Corporation, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences include anesthesia overdoses for one dog, one goat, and two rabbits with administered levels at “four times the recommended amount” and only veterinarian-approved “for terminal procedures.” A September 2009 USDA inspection team found a tested sheep afflicted with “anorexia, weight loss, labored breathing and signs of upper airway infection.” The agonized sheep died the next day. Stop Animal Exploitation Now executive director Michael Budkie noted “a pattern of negligence and disregard for the animals.” This pattern of repeated incidents suggests an endemic callousness for these animals’ safety and quality of life.
Harvard Medical School researchers stated that they are working to “strengthen their processes,” but refuse to publicly disclose their supposed high ethical practices for “fear of angering animal-rights extremists who sometimes resort to violence.” This thin excuse for Harvard’s lack of transparency throws their entire research operation into question. What is the need for opaque dodging, if Harvard researchers truly treat these tested animals humanely? Harvard University must fully announce its current ethical standards and reassessed procedures for animal testing. Harvard must vigilantly ensure the health, wellbeing, and safety of all animals – especially those in its testing programs. Given Harvard’s obstinate persistence in harming animal test subjects, the USDA and federal regulators should consider suspending the Harvard University and Harvard Medical School’s research license.
Dear Harvard University President Faust, Harvard Board of Overseers, Harvard Corporation, USDA eastern regional director Goldentyer, US Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, and US Congress:
Over the past three years, Harvard received $1.3 billion in funding for scientific research from the National Institutes of Health alone. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine director of academic affairs John J. Pippin advocates suspending Harvard’s research activities: “Harvard continues to put animals at risk and even kill them while benefitting from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding.” By contrast, the USDA can only issue a letter of warning or maximum fine of $10,000 per institution. You do the math – that’s just a minuscule cost of doing business. Federal regulators must remedy this institutional impunity.
Nine helpless animals paid the ultimate price for “business as usual” during the last two years, and countless others suffered. Please suspend animal research activities at Harvard University and its affiliate laboratories until this repeat offender publicly discloses an acceptable standard of ethical treatment and rigorous personnel training. Past flimsy attempts to train staff only occurred after animals were found dead – and the pattern of neglect and misconduct continues unabated.
I charge you with the lives and welfare of these poor animals, whose horrific testing experiences are currently subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Suspend Harvard’s animal research license and demand a complete disclosure of their animal testing safety procedures.
[Your Name Here]