Human ingenuity and compassion have prevailed in an Institute of Medicine declaration that invasive medical experiments on chimpanzees are largely unnecessary.
Update 2 p.m. ET: 90 minutes after the IOM report’s public release, NIH director Francis Collins announced that “I have considered the report carefully and have decided to accept the IOM committee recommendations.” The report recommended the NIH establish an independent oversight committee to evaluate each study, limiting biomedical experiments only to what is absolutely necessary and ensuring that all research is ethically conducted. No new research funding will be granted until the recommendations are in place.
Though the report’s suggestions are not legally binding, the Institute is widely respected. Its judgments often shape government and academic policy. According to the report, experiments that inflict physical and mental harm to humanity’s closest living relatives are justified only when absolutely indispensable, and when no other alternatives exist.