Friday, September 13, 2002

OPPOSITION GROWS TO CHIMPANZEE KIDNAPPING FOR AIDS RESEARCH

Outrage at chimp Aids experiments
Johannesburg

An alleged plan to capture wild chimpanzees in Northern Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the purpose of Aids experiments by a Dr Victor Toma has been met with outrage by anti-vivisectionists as well as scientists in South Africa and abroad.

South Africans for the Abolition of Vivisection (SAAV) has been in contact with Sheila Siddle who runs the Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage in Zambia.

While chimps do not occur naturally in the wild in Zambia, Siddle reported that she had been assured by the Zambian Wildlife Authority that no import permits would ever be issued to Dr Toma and that no permission would ever be given to him for his experiments on chimps in Zambia....

Said SAAV representative Michele Pickover: "Leaving aside for the moment the fact that chimpanzees are a protected species of whom there are very few left in the world, this research would be seriously flawed as, on Toma's own admission, HIV is not deadly to chimps and would therefore serve as a poor model."

SAAV's views have been supported by Medical Research Modernisation Committee MD Dr Stephen Kaufman, who said that different viruses have different effects on different species.

"Human clinical investigation is the only way to study Aids in humans," he said.