must disclose information on substance-abuse tests using monkeys
state must turn over documents that detail taxpayer-funded experiments conducted
on monkeys and other non-human primates for substance abuse research, a
state Supreme Court justice ruled in Albany.
state Office of Mental Health attempted to block the Freedom of Information
Act request filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine saying
that the scientists who performed the studies may be targeted by animal-rights
terrorists if the details of their experiments were disclosed.
Supreme Court Justice Richard M. Platkin threw out nearly every argument
requested public records relating to OMH-funded research done by three Columbia
University scientists at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New
York City, including grant applications, complaints filed against the researchers
and research protocols. OMH provided 27 pages of information but denied
the group access to the bulk of the records.
of the experiments involved conditioning rhesus monkeys to have drug and
alcohol addictions, and then testing whether various medications broke those
addictions, said Dr. John J. Pippin, PCRM senior medical and research advisor.
declined to comment.
documents, OMH argued that "the well-documented, increasingly frequent
threats and acts of violence directed by militant animal rights extremists
at research facilities and individual researchers who are engaged in research
using animal subjects" was evidence that the information should not
be made public.
court noted PCRM already knew the names of the scientists and said that
much of the information was already available on the Internet in published
wrote: "State government routinely engages in activities that some
individuals might find objectionable or inflammatory, but OMH can point
to no precedent for insulating the work of New York State government from
public scrutiny on the basis that disclosure could upset or incite those
who lack respect for the rule of the law."
ruling said that in its "watchdog" role, PCRM has a legitimate
purpose for its request and that is to assess "the scientific value
and social utility of the research being performed and whether public resources
should be continued to be devoted to this research," the court said.
said OMH is trying to hide the details of the experiments.
claims that were made in the lawsuit about safety of the researchers, privacy,
and intellectual property issues -- that's a smokescreen," he said.
"They know that this research can't stand the light of day, that when
the public knows about this, they are going to be outraged."