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Fewer Primates?

US lawmakers are considering a spending bill that would require the NIH to reduce its use of non-human primates in research, Nature News reports.

The bill, which was approved on May 8 by a committee in the House of Representatives, would direct the NIH "to accelerate efforts to reduce and replace the use of non-human primates with alternative research models" in its labs. It would apply to the 2020 budget year, which begins on Oct. 1, 2019.

The agency would also be required to produce a report on the number of primates it uses in research, its purpose for using them, how much pain they feel, and a timeline for replacing and retiring the animals, according to Nature News.

The provision was to the spending legislation for the Department of Health and Human Services by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), who has worked for years to regulate animal research. In 2014, Roybal-Allard and three other members of Congress requested a bioethical review of experiments involving baby monkeys at an NIH lab, which resulted in changes to the procedures involving those animals, and ultimately resulted in an end to those studies in late 2015, the article adds.

The NIH also said in 2015 that it would retire the use of all chimpanzees in biomedical research. But according to the Department of Agriculture, the overall number of non-human primates used by US scientists in research increased by 22 percent from 2015 to 2017, Nature News says. The NIH says that non-human primates are increasingly important for work on HIV and in neuroscience.