Monday, September 02, 2002

MAD SCIENTIST PLANS TO KIDNAP WILD CHIMPANZEES FOR EXPERIMENT

Illegal bid to get chimps for HIV tests
SA doctor says he plans to 'break the law for the good of humanity' by capturing wild apes for vaccine experiment. ANDRE JURGENS

A SOUTH African doctor is planning to illegally capture wild chimpanzees - which are endangered - to use in an HIV vaccine experiment.

And despite stinging criticism from environmentalists, including chimp expert Jane Goodall, Dr Victor Toma is unapologetic. "I am planning to break the law for the good of humanity," he said this week.

Toma placed a newspaper advert, on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, seeking financial support for an HIV vaccine study on live chimps. He plans to get the six to 11 chimps from the Democratic Republic of Congo....

It could take years to get permission to conduct the experiment in South Africa via a legal process that was "cumbersome and not feasible", he explained.

But the creatures were easy to capture, for a small fee, in or near the DRC. They would be infected with HIV and injected with the vaccine "on a farm in northern Zambia" in a three- month pilot study costing about R100 000, he said.

There was a fortune to be made if the vaccine worked, claimed the 65-year-old doctor who is a consultant specialising in blood diseases at Kimberley Hospital....

Asked about their fate, he said: "They will be released in nature or, if infected, I will probably put them down. I have killed thousands of mice, rats and beautiful rabbits.

"How many cows and chickens are killed in London every day?" ...

Chimps injected with HIV do not develop Aids, Goodall said....