Saturday, August 29, 2009

The pattern is easy to see

Primate center officials had denied using zoo monkeys in invasive research until The Capital Times obtained specific monkey identification numbers that showed monkeys being born at the zoo and dying at the hands of researchers.

The identification numbers were provided by a Madison animal rights group. "Zoo Monkeys Secretly Killed: Uw Researchers Broke Commitment." Capital Times August 9, 1997.
-----
Kemnitz,... interim director of the center ... maintained Sunday that the primate center has done nothing wrong. The monkeys taken from the zoo and used for invasive research are a tiny percentage of all the monkeys at the center and represent a legitimate exception to the non-use policy, he said. "Uw Scientists Deny Knowing Monkeys Had Lived At Zoo." Capital Times August 11, 1997.
-----
A month after the UW-Madison admitted to a "serious breach" of an agreement with the Henry Vilas Zoo, new incidents are still coming to light and questions are being raised about the candor of UW officials regarding research on zoo monkeys.

In a written statement released Tuesday, Joe Kemnitz, interim director of the university's Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, admitted that at least one animal has been used in invasive studies since he took over the helm of the primate center in August 1996. The monkey had a fetus removed from her womb 20 days after conception so scientists could study it.

"This assignment and procedure were made by error and not as an intentional exception to the agreement," Kemnitz wrote. "I am chagrined that this oversight occurred."

Kemnitz wrote to newspapers last weekend to say that no improper assignments had been made under his leadership.

He wrote: "I deeply regret this breach of trust between the primate center and the zoo's administration, as well as the public. Importantly, none of our current staff intentionally violated the agreement. Furthermore, no exceptions to the agreement have been made during my tenure as interim director, which began one year ago."

The Capital Times has learned that two other monkeys in addition to the one that Kemnitz refers to were used in biomedical research projects within the past year in ways that may have violated the zoo agreement. "Uw Official Backtracks On Monkeys' Fate (all Editions) Pact With Zoo Violated More Recently." Capital Times September 18, 1997.
-----
-----

In 2007, three representatives from UW-Madison made a presentation to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. UW-Madison was one of 14 semifinalists bidding to host the planned NBAF, intended to replace the aging and contaminated Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. NBAF will feature BSL-4 laboratories intended to study the most dangerous diseases known and yet to be discovered or designed.

Irwin Goldman, associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences was the primary university spokesperson at the March 8, presentation. Goldman told the Dane County Supervisors that he was knowledgeable of the risk associated with biological research because he was familiar with the use of pesticides and herbicides. In his opinion, based on his own expertise in horticulture, he found nothing to be concerned with in having a BSL-4 lab in town. March 8, 2007 UW-Madison presentation to the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

-----
The Department of Homeland Security relied on a rushed, flawed study to justify its decision to locate a $700 million research facility for highly infectious pathogens. "Infectious Diseases Study Site Questioned: Tornado Alley May Not Be Safe, GAO Says." The Washington Post July 27, 2009.
-----
-----
Biosafety Systems Strong, Uw Insists. "Biosafety Systems Strong, Uw Insists: Several Critics Worry University Researchers Could Inadvertently Expose The Public To Biohazards." Wisconsin State Journal Wednesday, January 30, 2008.
-----
With more than 100 research projects in limbo, dozens of labs behind on safety inspections, and the investigation into a "Major Action" violation unfinished, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has vowed to hire more safety officers to review campus research.

Martin's response came after a campus committee sent her a letter last month stating that UW-Madison is not in compliance with National Institutes of Health guidelines because of "gross and chronic" understaffing.

"The risk is that the NIH would see that we're not carrying out our responsibilities, our end of the deal, and they could penalize the university," said Paul Lambert, who is head of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, which reviews research projects that involve biological materials. "They could deny us funding." "Martin Acts To Improve Safety: Understaffing Could Put Federal Funding At Risk." Wisconsin State Journal Friday, June 5, 2009.
-----
-----

And then there are the decades of illegal sheep decompression experiments and the very secret new BSL-3 lab that the university wants to build at the primate center.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool the public over and over and over, and you ought to go to jail.

No comments: