By Joshua Klein In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, the vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for the firing of White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID Dr. Anthony Fauci over “failed” animal experimentation by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), highlighting the billions wasted on cruel projects and “illogical” studies such as attempts at creating transgender monkeys, while praising Republicans for “leading the way” on these issues.
Speaking with Breitbart News on Thursday, PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo, who has served the animal rights group for 33 years, weighed in on the current opposition to “failed” animal experiments, calling attention to the NIH’s squandering of nearly half its annual budget on such failed experiments, as well as her group’s proposed alternative methods of research.
Guillermo began by explaining how PETA’s opposition to animal experimentation was always due to “ethical reasons,” however, in recent years, it has seen the “scientific basis” for it as well.
“There have been a number of papers published showing that animal experimentation is failing to lead to treatments for humans,” she said, “and it’s acknowledged by the National Institutes of Health and by the people who use animals.”
“But for some reason, NIH seems incapable of changing its practices,” she added.
As a result, the group has created a strategy which includes phasing out animal experiments.
“So our scientists developed what we call the ‘research modernization deal’ and it outlines the reasons for ending animal experimentation,” she said. “Using the statistics from the published studies, it offers a strategy for how we can phase it out and what can be done instead.”
“The strategy is essentially: if we know it doesn’t work, stop doing it,” she said. “And for other areas of research where we’re not sure, evaluate those fairly and stop what doesn’t work and fund what does work. It’s common sense and yet somehow NIH seems to need to have common sense put directly in front of them.”
According to Guillermo, after the European Parliament reviewed PETA’s “straightforward” strategy, it directed the European Commission to come up with a plan and timeline for phasing out animal research, as she warned the U.S. “is already going to be falling behind our European allies.”
Citing the figures, she called out the “illogical” pursuit of failed methods.
“The budget for these experiments is about $20 billion, which is so illogical,” she said, noting it is ”about half of NIH’s budget.”
“If you’ve got something that fails more than 90% of the time, and in some disease research areas it’s 100% failure — such as drugs developed using animals for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, neurological diseases, strokes, and sepsis — and you’re spending 50% of your budget on that, that is just statistically illogical,” she added.
Among some of the more extreme NIH experimentation “funded by Anthony Fauci’s institute at NIH” during the current pandemic, she noted, is the attempt to create transgender monkeys.
“The idea by the experimenter who’s at Scripps Research in Florida is to study HIV transmission among transgender women,” she said, “but instead of actually working with transgender women, which could be done humanely and non-invasively and would yield results that actually mean something, he has chosen to take male monkeys and give them hormones so that he can ‘feminize’ them and they become models for transgender women.”
“It’s crazy,” she added. “That’s the only word I think that does it justice.”
Calling it “absurd on so many levels,” she emphasized the ineffectiveness of such research.
“Beyond the obvious absurdity of trying to create a transgender monkey, monkeys don’t even contract HIV,” she said. “They don’t develop AIDS.”
The overwhelming evidence for such, she said, was recently presented to Dr. Fauci by the group.
“We had just gone to Dr. Fauci about a month ago with evidence that the 36 years of HIV experiments on monkeys that his institute has been funding have utterly failed to produce a vaccine for humans,” she said.
“They’ve produced lots of vaccines that work in monkeys who have a virus that’s kind of like HIV but isn’t,” she added. “But when they try them in humans, they’ve all failed.”
Accusing the NIH of having “lost their way,” she listed several reasons she believed the failed experimentation continues.
“I think one of the reasons why it continues is that it has become the goal of most experimenters, most scientists at universities that are funded by NIH and within NIH, to publish a paper, not really to produce a treatment or cure or a vaccine,” she said.
“And publishing papers is a lot easier than making real change, so that’s part of it,” she added. “We have to stop rewarding that in the absence of actual progress.”
Another reason, she noted, is due to bureaucratic procedures and attempts to maintain budgets.
“The other problem is there’s a certain bureaucratic inertia and many of the people on the committees that review proposals for research projects are themselves animal experimenters,” she said. “That’s what they know. They go to college, they learn how to study a particular thing using animals, they spend their whole careers doing it without ever evaluating whether or not it’s useful, and then they approve people who come up behind them for the same thing.”
“So, we really need to get people in there who have an understanding of modern research methods,” she added.
Guillermo then expanded on the many alternative methods of performing necessary research.
“There are a lot of them, and we’re seeing some uses of them by the pharmaceutical industry — the ones with the 95% failure rate on new medications that seem to work in animals, don’t work in humans,” she said. “Some of these are the organ-on-a-chip technology — the computer modeling of organ systems, which are really sophisticated using supercomputers, artificial intelligence, and the wise and humane use of epidemiological and clinical studies with humans too.”
“Ultimately, humans are the ones that everything is tested on in the end because animals just really aren’t good stand-ins for humans, so doing this wisely from the beginning can make a huge difference,” she added.
Calling the fight for humane animal treatment in research “a bipartisan issue on the Hill, which I find encouraging,” she credited Republicans with leading on these issues.
“In my experience at PETA, so often, it’s the Republicans who are leading the way on this,” she said.
Despite the “wide bipartisan support on the Hill,” Guillermo admitted that Dr. Fauci “has not responded to any of our queries yet,” adding she was unaware if he had even responded to Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) who had demanded Fauci answer for “cruel, taxpayer-funded experiments on puppies” and with whom PETA is currently working with.
Replacing Dr. Fauci
Guillermo was unambiguous about her thoughts on Dr. Fauci’s role at NIH.
“I think Fauci should be fired and so should every other director at NIH right now because they’re perpetuating the problem,” she said. “I have no problem saying that.”
“They’re in the way and they need to get out of the way,” she added.
Noting that when “any other line of work produces a 90 to 100% failure rate, usually methods are changed,” Guillermo called for a new NIH head to change its ways.
“That’s really what we’re encouraging here,” she said. “We have to have somebody in charge at NIH, and this will be down to President Biden to appoint somebody worthy of this position, who can take NIH, shake it up, turn it upside down, get rid of the deadwood.”
However, Guillermo did not indicate a specific individual to replace Dr. Fauci.
“There’s not a particular person I have in mind,” she said. “I think there are probably many good people.”
She then listed the key qualifications she believed a new head must have.
“First, a new director needs to be aware of the information on the failure of animal studies,” she said.
“And just as important, they need to be willing to lead because we saw even with [NIH Director Dr.] Francis Collins when he came into that position at the beginning of his tenure, he acknowledged the failure of animal studies to translate to human studies and he got tremendous pushback by the animal experimenters,” she added, “and rather than standing up for what he knew was right, he just caved in and said, ‘OK, you’re right. We just need to improve the animal experimenters.’”
Calling for a director “who can really lead in the true sense of the word and who won’t be dominated by political factions within the NIH,” she spoke of the need “to accept the strategy that we’ve put forth in our research modernization deal, which is very straightforward.”
Last month, PETA senior vice president of cruelty investigations Daphna Nachminovitch accused the NIH of involvement in a $1.2 million contract to purchase beagles for “cruel experiments.”
In October, a non-profit organization called White Coat Waste Project accused Dr. Fauci and the NIH of partially funding experiments in Tunisia, North Africa, that locked beagles’ heads in cages while hordes of hungry sandflies ate them alive.
The non-profit also said it obtained documents through a FOIA request showing that the NIH, led by Fauci, gave Kansas State University $536,311 to conduct an experiment involving hundreds of ticks feasting on live beagle puppies injected with mutant bacteria.
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