Research on macaques at Harvard University is causing outrage among primatologists

Research on macaques at Harvard University is causing outrage among primatologists
A female macaque has had her baby taken from her by the Neurobiology Laboratory at Harvard University Medical School in the US.

To study the neurological consequences of blindness, macaques with sutured eyelids are kept closed for a year. Women separated from their babies soon after birth are given a soft toy as compensation to understand the springs of animal attachment. The research, carried out at Harvard Medical School in the US, has sparked a wave of outrage since it was published in mid-September. Essay presenting resultsin the prestigious American Journal of Science Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Monday October 17, 250 scientists – mostly ethicists and primaries – wrote to the publication to retract the article. A rare approach, the review has yet to comment.

The contested work was conducted by Professor Margaret Livingstone of Harvard’s Department of Neurology. This is at the request of the press PNAS The researcher, who was recently elected to the American Academy of Sciences, published the results of observations of animals separated from their young as part of a series of writings by new members of the institution.

The university justified the research in a press release as “providing essential knowledge about vision, brain development and neurological disorders.”

Dr. Livingstone says that girls bond with their “todo” through touch, preferring soft stuffed animals to hard toys. The article PNAS He also quotes Previous work by the same group on vision loss, which involved temporarily suturing the eyelids of newborn macaques. The effect wears off after a few days, but the animals actually close their eyes for a year. At Harvard University this visual impairment no longer occurs, but matrilineal segregation is still practiced.

Catherine Hoppeiter, principal physician at the University of St-Andrews (Scotland), sent the letter at the initiative of PhD student Cal Badihi. PNASHe said he was particularly shocked by the methods used. “Since the 1960s, we know that the experiences of relying on maternal separation are very complex. Today we can and must do better. » The publication of the work angered the animal welfare organization PETA, which asked Harvard Immediate cessation of these tests.

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