Wisc. Senate candidate: Defund cocaine and quail sex study

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

Wisconsin Senate candidate Mark Neumann has some ideas about how the federal government can save money: for instance, by cutting funding for a study on how cocaine impacts the sex drive of the Japanese Quail.

Neumann, a former congressman, said Thursday that he’d like to bring down the axe on research into the “risky sex habits of the Japanese Quail.”

The National Institutes of Health awarded $357,000 over two years, in 2010 and 2011, to the University of Kentucky to conduct the study, which aims to further understanding of how cocaine affects the sexual behavior of humans.

“Why Japanese quail? Cocaine abuse in humans has been shown clinically that it leads to risky sexual behavior … more sexual partners, and that leads to more sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. James Tracy, the vice president for research at the University of Kentucky, told WYKT in December.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn noted the funding in his 2011 Wastebook.

According to the University of Kentucky’s website, the birds are ideal study subjects because because they “readily engage in reproductive behavior in the laboratory ”

Tracy told WYKT that the attack on the study was poorly researched because it only looked at the title, and that critics neglected to consider what could be learned from it.

The Scicurious blog at Scientific American defended it as “a potentially valuable study that could teach us something about how cocaine changes behaviors, and the underlying mechanisms of change.”

“It’s just, totally ridiculous,” said Chip Englander, Neumann’s campaign manager.

“We have a debt crisis that’s going to destroy this country, and we’re spending over $175,000 to study the relationship between cocaine and quail. It’s a joke!” added Englander, citing the expense for 2011 alone.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on Neumann’s remark.  The quail study is scheduled to continue through 2015.

Follow Alexis on Twitter