The Boston Globe’s editorial calling for more transparency at the New England Primate Research Center is behind the paywall, but worth checking out. It comes as the USDA launches another investigation into the death of la ab animal at the Harvard facility.
Public support for animal testing hinges on the assumption that researchers treat their test subjects as humanely as possible. Negative reviews from the USDA undermine that support. At the very least, Harvard should respond fully and publicly. The public generally supports life-saving research. More information could help solidify that support – and decrease the threat of violence that keeps the institution tight-lipped in the first place.
In addition to the three primates, deaths at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the McLean Hospital Corporation, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—all affiliated with Harvard but registered separately with the USDA—bring the total number of animal deaths in the past two years at Harvard-affiliated institutions to nine.
“Nine animal deaths is a significant number,” USDA spokesperson David Sacks wrote in an email.
Still, Sacks noted that “numbers don’t always give the clearest picture.”
The paper reports that, since 2009 a dog, two rabbits and a goat at different Harvard departments and hospitals died after anesthesia overdoses. That September, a USDA inspection team found a sheep at the hospital suffering from a respiratory infection and “anorexia.”