Big animal rights groups like PETA are taking donors’ money for expensive ad buys, lavish galas, and endless campaigns with empty promises — but the government watchdog White Coat Waste Project has actually been stopping the government from torturing dogs, monkeys, and other animals in testing labs in the U.S., China and more foreign countries with billions of taxpayers’ money.
Now, following a seven-year WCW grassroots and lobbying effort to defund the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), the FDA Commissioner’s office confirmed in an August 22, 2023, email to WCW that “NCTR does not currently have an NHP program. It was retired in December 2022.”
Additionally, government records analyzed by WCW and provided exclusively to TimCast show that the FDA’s overall use of primates in experiments has dropped by nearly two-thirds since WCW’s campaign began in 2016.
In an exclusive statement to TimCast, WCW’s president and founder Anthony Bellotti celebrated the big development, “We’re proud to have scored this victory in the war on waste by shutting down the FDA’s biggest primate lab and cutting its widely opposed taxpayer-funded monkey business overall by a staggering 63 percent. When we first launched our investigation and campaign in 2016, FDA’s primate experimentation was rapidly on the rise, with over 381 monkeys abused at its lab each year—now, it’s just 141, and we closed down its single biggest offender entirely.”
Using records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), WCW’s investigations documented that FDA’s NCTR wasted $5.5 million to lock up baby squirrel monkeys in tiny cages and strap them in custom-made vests that infused nicotine into their veins when they pressed a lever.
After WCW’s investigation broke, the group joined forces with Republican lawmakers like Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) and successfully convinced the Trump FDA to stop the nicotine addiction tests on monkeys and relocate over two dozen of the animals to a primate sanctuary for the first time in agency history.
But the FDA’s Arkansas-based NCTR lab, which received $77 million last year from the Biden Administration, continued abusing other primates in wasteful taxpayer-funded experiments.
Records obtained by WCW through ongoing FOIA requests and lawsuits showed that the FDA lab was using tax dollars to breed baby monkeys, rip them away from their mothers, and perform “simulated” surgeries on the newborns and expose them to anesthetics before killing them at five days old.
Disturbing emails released to WCW show that FDA researchers wrote “thanks for the great team work” on “the experiment of exposing the neonatal monkey…the baby monkey is being kept in the incubator. It will be euthanized for sampling.” Internal FDA videos obtained by WCW also show FDA researchers dancing around as they locked a small monkey alone in a lab cage.
FDA documents obtained by WCW show that in other tests, monkeys were locked in tiny cages for over a decade and forced to consume massive doses of drugs, including Ritalin, ketamine, and amphetamines, every day to get them addicted and then force them into withdrawal.
The drug-addled monkeys were then confined in restraint devices and locked in testing chambers. The FDA researchers described “testing akin to playing video games for candy” and wrote that the restrained monkeys “enjoy” it.
The FDA’s records obtained by WCW tell a different story. AT NCTR, monkeys bit and tore at their own flesh, and the suffering of the primates abused in these experiments was so severe that many were killed.
Following WCW’s campaign and investigations, this FDA lab has shut down all primate testing as of December 2022, and WCW is working to stop the rest of the FDA’s monkey tests.
Since 2016, WCW has worked with Rep. Gaetz and others in Congress to expose abuses, enact legislation directing the FDA to reduce primate testing, prioritize alternative testing methods, and secure a first-ever agency policy allowing the FDA to relocate primates to sanctuaries.
The group’s lobbying and grassroots campaign work is making a big impact.
When WCW’s campaign launched in 2016, the FDA reported using 381 primates in experiments. In 2022, the most recent data available, the FDA reported using 141, reflecting a 63 percent cut. No other organization has been working to stop the FDA’s primate research and not a single federal primate lab was closed by an establishment animal rights group during either the Trump or Biden administrations.
WCW’s Bellotti explained, “The White Coat Waste Project is proud to be the only organization that has successfully shut down government primate labs—or any monkey tests in the United States—in nearly a decade. A majority of Democrats and Republicans agree: taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for cruel and wasteful government spending on primate tests, and we’ll continue to make sure they don’t have to and that NCTR doesn’t start monkeying around again. Stop the money. Stop the madness!”