Gottlieb Doesn’t Monkey About

Posted 6th December 2018 by Dave Cross
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has made one of the weirdest statements of the week, as he salutes test lab simians: “We honour the monkeys for their service and sacrifice to the FDA”. The squadron of squirrel monkeys had been used for nicotine trials and have been seen by some as pouring cold water on the hysteria over its dangers.

Gottlieb’s primate praise went out to Poppit and Pixel, Kari and Gizmo, Pip and Bagnall – oh, hang on, Bagnall runs the Jungle Friends ranch in Gainesville, Florida. Kari Bagnall is looking after twenty-six of the little scamps, giving them a new lease of life after being cramped up to three in a cage while scientists sought to see how they responded to nicotine testing.

In an age of heaping salutations onto those who go above and beyond, Scott saluted true heroes: “We’re delighted that our beloved squirell [sic] monkeys are in a wonderful new home, we’re grateful to their new hosts, and we honour the monkeys for their service and sacrifice in helping the FDA to advance important public health goals.”

Squirrel monkeys are commonly found in the canopies of the tropical forests of Central and South America. Wikipedia informs readers that the common squirrel monkey is not a threatened species, but it is at risk of being incarcerated and subjected to the whims of tobacco control scientists. NASA has fired one common squirrel monkey (Miss Baker) into space – presumably to try to reverse the outcome of Planet of the Apes.

CNN quotes Bagnall as saying: “The most special thing about these particular monkeys is that they came out of the FDA, which has not released monkeys out of research in the past -- and we are so happy that now the FDA is opting to retire monkeys after the research has ended. They didn't have to do this.”

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“All of these monkeys were born inside. They've never been outside. So they've never felt the sun on their face or the grass under their feet or rain or wind. It's all going to be such a new experience for them, and they're all just so different and individual. They'll all react differently.”

The troop was previously locked up at the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research. They were part of a study examining ‘behavioral and biological effects of nicotine’. Advocacy group White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) filed a Freedom of Information request regarding the project, which the FDA didn’t bother replying to. WCWP then sued the FDA.

Monkey mate Jane Goodall wrote to Gottlieb to express her disgust at the pointless nature of the investigation. Which, unlike the arguments put forward to him from vapers, was immediately acted upon and the cheeky chaps were released.

The project leaders claim that data is incomplete and won’t be released, despite the apes being dosed up with nicotine for four years. Nevertheless, many are pointing out that they are all happy and healthy (bar one with arthritis) – and this mocks the anti-nicotine hysteria currently emanating from Gottlieb’s office.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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