Monkeys on drugs!! FOR SCIENCE!!!  »

Oh, motherfucker. You never know where a news story will lead you, right? Like how “The USDA is full of racists! Black people are taking over the country and ruining it for all the white people!” hideousness turned out to be “A USDA employee grew as a person before coming to work at the USDA! Andrew Breitbart is a disgusting racist and people are shockingly willing to listen to him!” Or the “evidence of widespread corruption” that shut down ACORN that were actually complete fabrications? Nasty stuff.

Here’s another one! But there isn’t any conveniently edited videotape, and the victims aren’t humans, so it probably won’t get much attention. It deserves outrage, though. See, the other day, some grumpy Republican senators released a report criticizing some of the projects that had received money through the stimulus program. Naturally, the writers of the report gave these projects extremely ridiculous titles, so as to stir up as much shallow controversy as possible. “Yoga and hot flashes!” Who needs to study the effects of yoga on reducing hot flashes in breast cancer survivors? That shit is INSANE! Replacing the windows in the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument? But it is closed and the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t plan on reopening it! And anyway, just the WINDOWS? Are you trying to give John McCain a rage-induced heart attack right now?

The most controversial, or at least the one that received the most frivolous name and onto which ol’ Nevadan crazypants Sharron Angle latched quite firmly, is “Monkeys Getting High For Science”—more specifically, a $71,623 grant to the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to “[help] protect very important research that will have significant impact on public health in regards to cocaine addiction and the issue of relapse.” On monkeys. And yes, that does sound fucking crazy. What are the scientists of WFUBMC talking about, and are they really experimenting with monkeys and cocaine? Is this even the most important part of the story?

Considering the rest of the story is like: “The report is very accusatory, doesn’t get its facts exactly right, and the senators probably could’ve better spent their time passing some motherfucking legislation, those lazy bastards,” yes, it is. A quick keyword Google found the official WFUBMC faculty pages for Michael A. Nader, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology, and Paul Czoty, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology, both of the WFU Translational Science Institute and Primate Center. These two gentlemen are particularly important because, listed under their names are their recent publications, the majority of which are credited to both of them, and which go as far back as April 2006. Of Nader’s 41 listed articles, 26, or 63 percent, are specifically on the effects of cocaine (or withholding cocaine from already addicted) monkeys; one is on the effects of MDMA on monkeys. Of Czoty’s 32 listed articles, 19, or 59 percent, are on the effects of cocaine (or withholding cocaine from already addicted) monkeys; he was a contributor to the study on MDMA and monkeys.

The spokesperson for WFUBMC told a half-truth, at least; the stimulus money didn’t create a new program to “get monkeys high for science.” It’s in its fifth year, at least—I couldn’t find anything earlier using the search feature. Animal experiments are fucking disgusting, but animal experiments using cocaine? Where did the cocaine come from? Does WFU have permission to grow coca and process it into cocaine? That is the only ethical option for obtaining the cocaine—you can’t imagine scientists buying it off the street, and if so, that would actually make them the most evil scientists performing research in the name of “helping people” since the atomic bomb was created. Because you know drugs have a really, really high human cost, and unless you can ethically source them—just like your food, and your clothes!—you should not consume them.

But: the monkeys. They make the monkeys “self-administer” the cocaine, which seems eminently more despicable than giving it to them like medication or food. Just, here you go, monkey, here’s some cocaine! Take it! There are several studies on the effects of “the reinforcing strength of cocaine”; one on “Vulnerability to cocaine abuse in socially housed female monkeys”; and this one is my favorite: “Impulsivity and vulnerability to cocaine self-administration in adult rhesus monkeys exposed to cocaine in utero.” They give cocaine to pregnant monkeys, then give cocaine to their babies once they’ve become adults! Just to, you know, see what happens. Because rhesus monkeys are EXACTLY LIKE HUMANS! All this work, creating generations of cocaine-addicted monkeys, will provide us with so much valuable information on—what? How to cure cocaine addiction in humans? Except that, again, monkey physiology is not human physiology; a rhesus monkey’s brain is not a human’s brain. How are these scientists so sure the horrific things they’re doing will have any positive effect on humanity at all? Further, what gives them the right to perform these obscene experiments on any nonhuman, non-consenting animal—it’s their humanity, right? Their implicit human superiority?

Agreeing with useless, time-wasting politicians is irritating, but they probably did us a favor calling attention to these gross experiments. Of course they did it all wrong, but they weren’t paying attention to the important parts: the parts where the government is helping to pay for Wake Forest University to continue to torture monkeys with drugs. Everything is terrible, hooray!

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