By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick is pushing Congress to adopt a bill that would stop invasive experiments on chimpanzees and free the mammals from small testing cages. "I will do whatever I can," she told Whispers from her California home. "I want the whole idea of testing banned. Use a petri dish if you want to test an animal," she says. Slick is part of a broad effort, led by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, to limit or end drug testing on animals. The activists are backing H.R. 1326, which would end the testing, release federally owned chimps to permanent sanctuaries, and end federal funding for breeding federally owned chimpanzees.
For Slick's part, she has taped a phone message on the issue delivered to all lawmakers. Meanwhile, today on Capitol Hill, the doctors' group is exhibiting photos and videos of former testing chimps now living in sanctuaries. Why Slick? "People tend to use celebrities because they believe us. You just need to know what you're talking about," she says. Slick has been involved in fighting animal testing for over 30 years, first getting interested in it when she received a flier in the mail about pandas being endangered. "It's not an emotional deal. It's about the science," she says, calling animal testing "sloppy science." Arguing that it's difficult to apply lessons learned on rats and chimps to how a drug will react in humans, she says, "We're not like rats."
(Photo of Slick courtesy Robert Knight.)