Approximately one thousand chimpanzees are currently housed in U.S. laboratories for use in medical research, at a cost to taxpayers of over $60 million a year. A bill recently introduced in the Senate, and an identical House bill from a year ago, would phase out invasive research and testing on these animals and retire them to sanctuaries. Not surprisingly, the bill has the support of the Humane Society and other animal rights advocates, who say the apes experience physical and psychological pain as a result of their confinement in labs. But a consortium of researchers opposes the ban. They maintain that chimpanzees serve as a critical research model for the development of vaccines for hepatitis, malaria, cancer and other diseases. Do the potential benefits to humans outweigh the well-being of animals? And should taxpayers support medical research that might induce harm to its subjects?
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