The Major Gap in a New Bill in Congress to Rehome Research Animals

Cassie Jurenci

In May 2019, Representative Brendan Boyle (D-PA) introduced the Animal Freedom from Testing, Experiments, and Research Act of 2019 (the AFTER Act of 2019). If passed, the bill would require all federal departments, agencies, and instrumentalities that have laboratory or exhibiting animals to “facilitate the adoption or nonlaboratory placement of certain warm-blooded animals (e.g., dogs, cats, monkeys, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits) with animal rescue organizations, animal sanctuaries, animal shelters, or individuals” who are no longer needed for research and are suitable for release. According to the US Humane Society, animals used in laboratory experiments who survive experimentation are typically euthanized at the end of the experiment, if not during. In a statement, Representative Boyle explained, “[f]or years, I’ve worked to end outdated government animal testing opposed by most Americans, and have been disturbed at how many animals are killed at the end of research even though there are individuals, rescues, and sanctuaries ready to take them in.” 

Regrettably, the AFTER Act does not extend the opportunity for rehoming following experimentation to the millions of birds, rats, or mice used in research every year.

According to the US Humane Society, rats and mice are the most-used animals in research yet, along with birds, they are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In fact, “[o]nly about 1 percent of animals used in research in the United States are protected by this legislation” according to Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado—Boulder and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals. In Emotional Lives, Bekoff explains how The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 redefined “animal” to…exclude birds, rats, and mice, bred for research. In the absence of protections under the AWA and without statistics from the USDA on the use of mice and rats in research, ascertaining the number of individuals used in research is a challenge.

The Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress began the “monumental task” of estimating the number of these animals used in research and, in a report published in 2000, they determined that an estimated “85 percent of vertebrate animals used in research, education, and testing are mice and rats.” Compilers of the report contacted 100 of the 2,000 research organizations in its database, and of those organizations, the report found that between 250,000 and 1,000,000 rats, 400,000-2,000,000 mice, and 130,000-900,000 birds were registered with those facilities. Considering similar estimates by other organizations, excluding rats, mice, and birds from the AFTER Act means that tens of millions of animals are not eligible for rehoming after spending their lives as research subjects.

Excluding rats, mice, and birds from the AFTER Act also eliminates the opportunity for these animals to live the rich lives of which they are capable after their use in research. In Emotional Lives, Bekoff details numerous scientific observations showing the emotional and social natures of rats, mice, and birds. Bekoff explains how, “[r]ats show an increase in dopamine activity simply anticipating the opportunity to play” and have been shown to “chirp with joy.” He references brain chemistry studies that “support the idea that play is pleasurable and fun.” Bekoff goes on to say that “[r]ats who are tickled bond to the researchers and seek out tickles.”

Talking about mice, Bekoff describes a scientific study on empathy in which “adult mice were injected with acetic acid, causing them to writhe in pain…. Researchers discovered that mice who watch their peers in pain are more sensitive to it themselves and that an injected mouse writhed more if its partner was also writhing.” On sadness, Bekoff explains how mice who “are bullied or consistently dominated by other mice… [and] become withdrawn” can be successfully treated with human antidepressants. Finally, Bekoff writes about the ability of birds to display ranges of emotion from happiness to anger, highlighting researcher Irene Pepperberg’s studies of the famous African gray parrot, Alex.

Certainly, as animal researchers themselves must attest based on the results of their experiments, rats, mice, and birds are capable of emotional experiences. These animals deserve the same opportunities for adoption after research granted to other commonly used research animals.

According to Pew, a growing number of states have begun passing laws requiring research facilities to provide for the adoption of healthy cats and dogs following experimentation where possible. Federally, the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Veterans Affairs have policies relating to the adoption of certain laboratory animals no longer needed for research.

The AFTER Act is admirable in its endeavor to provide lab animals the opportunity to live the rest of their lives in caring homes and non-research facilities. However, it is deficient in scope by excluding the vast majority of animals used in research in the United States: rats, mice, and birds. The AFTER Act has remained in the House Agriculture Committee since its referral to that body upon its introduction. The bill should be amended to expand the opportunity for adoption to rats, mice, and birds.

Are Lab Animals Necessary?

Raghav Patel

For centuries animals have been used for experiments in the name of science. Scientists have urged the general public that these experiments are necessary, for the advancement of medical and scientific discovery. These scientists believe that without using nonhumans, there wouldLab Animal - Monkey be no way for us to know if the drugs or research discovered, would work or be safe for human use. This argument is flawed in many respects, but none more than the fact that nonhumans simply are not humans. Many of the experiments that bring desired results on animals does not necessarily bring the same results for humans. Actually this is the case way more often than not, with a vast majority of experiments that bring desired results in animals, but resulting in either adverse or no effect on humans. This then bears the question; why do we still use animals in scientific experiments and medical research? There really isn’t a good reason based on the facts. Researches and certain companies want us to believe that these experiments are necessary for our safety, but in reality these experiments are used by companies and researchers to hedge their liability, so that if anything does actually go wrong on the humans that use their products, they can show the results from the animal Continue reading

Ethics of Animal Experimentation — Call for Chapter Contributors

David Cassuto

From the email:

Call for Book Chapter Contributions
The Ethics of Animal experimentation: Working towards a paradigm change
Editors: Kathrin Herrmann and Kimberley Jayne
Even though nonhuman animals are used for a variety of different purposes, their use in research particularly has remained an ethical challenge. It is evident that nonhuman animals in laboratories are exposed to a great deal of physical and psychological suffering, and that the use of animals in research is growing internationally.
Arguably, legal reforms around the world have insufficiently improved the protection of nonhuman animals. However, Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes in the European Union is radical compared to other legislation. The Directive promotes a change of paradigm in nonhuman animal experimentation in establishing a goal of the full replacement of the use of live animals in research and education as soon as it is scientifically feasible (Recital 10).
Building on the radical vision of Directive 2010/63/EU, this book aims to illustrate the current situation for nonhuman animals used in science and aims to give a future outlook to the end of their use in research. Besides exploring the current ethical challenges and scientific controversies related to animal experimentation, this Volume aims to discuss ways to work towards a fundamental change of paradigm. We invite contributions from interdisciplinary scholars who share a vision for how this abolition of animal research can be achieved. The goal is to find solutions for this urging problem that are led by a culture of compassion for all animals.
List of recommended topics (but not limited to):
 The legal framework: history, present and future prospects for an end of nonhuman animal use in science
 The culture of language around the use of animals in research
 The efficacy of the ‘Culture of Care’ incl. Refinement
 Methods for assessing the quality of animal research (e.g. ARRIVE guidelines)
 The politics of nonhuman animal experimentation
 Transparency that benefits animals versus transparency that appeases the public and inhibits potential scrutiny and outrage (e.g. UK Concordat)
 The capabilities and boundaries of public engagement
 The psychological and social implications for animal research staff
 The consequences of education and training using animals
 The 3Rs – what is in it for the nonhuman animals Continue reading

Progress at the Cost of Our Humanity

Seth Victor

The New York Times this week published an investigation into U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and, perhaps predictably, the results are disturbing. I heartily suggest reading the whole article, but for those in a rush, here are some of the interesting takeaway points:

  • U.S. Meat Animal Research Center is pioneering ways to produce meat more efficiently and cheaply via re-engineering farmed animals through surgery and breeding techniques
  • In pursuing this research, animal welfare has taken a backseat. For example, since 1985, 6,500 out of the 580,000 animals the center has housed have starved. 625 have died from mastitis, an easily treatable infection.
  • Nearly 10 million piglets have been crushed by their mothers each year, not because this is what mothers naturally do, but because they are being forced to have larger litters of weak piglets, and the mothers themselves are artificially larger, kept alive longer to reproduce.
  • For thirty-one years, the Center worked on genetically modifying cows to regularly produce twins, noting that single births were not an efficient way to produce meat. By injecting cows with embryos from other cows that birthed twins, and then injecting them with semen from bulls who sired twins, the Center produced cows that have a 55% chance of having twins, when naturally the chances are 3%. Many of the female calves of twins are born with deformed vaginas, and the artificially large wombs create birthing problems even for single calves. Over 16% of the twins died.
  • Thirty to forty cows die each year from exposure to bad weather, not including storms, in which several hundred more die.
  • 245 animals have died since 1985 due to treatable abscesses.
  • In 1990, the Center tried to create larger lambs by injecting pregnant ewes with an excessive amount of male hormone testosterone. Instead, the lambs were born with deformed genitals, which made urination difficult.
  • In 1989, the Center locked a young cow in place in a pen with six bulls for over an hour to determine the bulls’ libidos. The industry standard is to do this with one bull for fifteen minutes. By the time a vet was called, the cows hind legs were broken from being mounted, and she died within a few hours.
  • The scientists charged with administering the experiments, surgeries, and to euthanize do not have medical degrees. One retired scientist at the Center was quoted saying, “A vet has no business coming in and telling you how to do it. Surgery is an art you get through practice.”
  • “The leaner pigs that the center helped develop, for example, are so low in fat that one in five females cannot reproduce; center scientists have been operating on pigs’ ovaries and brains in an attempt to make the sows more fertile.”
  • Regarding oversight, “A Times examination of 850 experimental protocols since 1985 showed that the approvals [for experiments] were typically made by six or fewer staff members, often including the lead researchers for the experiment. The few questions asked dealt mostly with housekeeping matters like scheduling and the availability of animals.”
  • “The language in the protocols is revealing. While the words “profit” or “production efficiency” appear 111 times, “pain” comes up only twice.”

Continue reading

Oxford Center for Animal Ethics Call for Papers

David Cassuto

From the email:

Call for Papers Second Oxford Summer School on Animal EthicsThe Ethics of Using Animals in Research

26-29 July 2015 at St Stephen’s House, Oxford

In 1947, Oxford don C. S. Lewis commented that it was “the rarest thing in the world to hear a rational discussion of vivisection”. This Summer School intends to provide just that: a rational discussion of the ethics of using animals in research.

Papers are invited from academics world-wide on any aspect relating to the ethics of animal experimentation, including philosophical and religious ethics, historical, legal, psychological, and sociological perspectives, the morality of various types of research, the use of alternatives, the confinement of animals in laboratories, and the effectiveness of current controls and future legislation.

The Centre will be producing its own review of the ethics of the use of animals in research, which should be published in the Autumn of 2014. Contributors are asked to consider responding to the methodology and conclusions of the review in their contributions to the Summer School.

Abstracts of proposed contributions (no more than 300 words) should be sent to Clair Linzey via email: depdirector@oxfordanimalethics.com. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 1 January 2015.

All selected papers will be published in book form or in the Journal of Animal Ethics.

The School is being arranged by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in partnership with the BUAV. The Centre is very grateful to the BUAV for its sponsorship of academic work on this subject, including this Summer School.

St Stephen’s House is an Anglican Theological College and a Hall of the University of Oxford.

Registration for the Summer School will shortly be available on the Centre’s website.

Our mailing address is: Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

91 Iffley Road

Oxford, EnglandOX4 1EG

United Kingdom

Merck Pledges to End Chimpanzee Testing

 

Seth Victor

 

Taking further steps in the right direction, Merck, one of the largest drug producers in the world, announced last month that it is ending research on chimpanzees. Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for The HSUS said: “Merck’s new biomedical research policy will save chimpanzees from unnecessary and painful experiments. Merck’s decision, and that of several other pharmaceutical companies, sends a strong message that private industry is moving away from chimpanzee research as the government has.”

 

Merck has made this commitment while simultaneously stating, “The company’s mission is to discover, develop, manufacture and market innovative medicines and vaccines that treat and prevent illness. Animal research is indispensable to this mission.” While that quotation ominously suggests that other animals will continue to be a part of the company’s research, the more hopeful interpretation is that while Merck relies on animal testing under FDA regulations for its drugs and other products, it joins other pharmaceutical companies recognizing that even though chimps might be valuable to this research, their welfare is more important, and other ways to test the products should be utilized.

 

 

 

Amended CHIMP Act Allows More Chimpanzees to Retire to Federal Sanctuary

Anne Haas

On Wednesday, November 27th, President Obama signed into law a Chimp Haven Photobipartisan bill to support the retirement of research chimpanzees.

Earlier this year, the National Institute of Health (NIH) announced plans to retire about 90 percent of U.S. government-owned chimpanzees currently used in medical research to Chimp Haven, a national chimpanzee sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana. However, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act, signed into law in 2000, placed a $30 million cap on spending for federally owned chimpanzees in sanctuaries. NIH was expected to reach that cap in mid-November, affecting both the retirement and care of chimpanzees in laboratories and at Chimp Haven. Continue reading