As DrugMonkey already talked about: a well-known neuroscientist doing non-human primate research has announced that he will stop using monkeys but will switch to rodents instead. DrugMonkey ends his post with this:
This is the point where I am supposed to be telling you to call your Congress Critter.
But I can't.
Logothetis is not the first and he will not be the last.
We have had ample opportunity for biological scientists to see and be motivated to do something about this situation.
They have not done so.
So I would be wasting my breath.
I understand DrugMonkey's frustration with people not speaking up about this, and looking at the political climate in my homecountry, we even have a so-called "Party for the animals" who are very vocal against animal research. In addition, new legislation in the homecountry requires every IACUC-equivalent protocol to be published in non-technical terms and anyone in the EU is allowed to request this information. I have noticed that this makes researchers afraid that their personal information will come out in the open; it is not that difficult to figure out who wrote a specific protocol in such a small country with a limited pool of researchers. I can understand what drove Logothetis to quit his line of research. I have also noticed that I have stopped explaining my animal experiments to the people around me. I have stopped talking about it and I need to reconsider this.
So what can we do? For starters, check out Speaking of Research, who not only share stories of research that has been done using animals, but -more importantly - many facts about animal research. If we, as scientists, have convinced ourselves that the experiments we do on animals are necessary, designed in a way that as sophisticated and least harmful to the animals as possible, with the lowest number of animals possible and because as yet there is no alternative, then we should be able to explain this to our neighbors, our friends and our politicians. And if politicians think it is so incredibly important to understand how the brain works through the Brain initiative in the US and the Human Brain Project in the EU they cannot close their eyes for the fact that we cannot learn everything about the brain from humans but that we need to study some aspects in animals, including non-human primates.