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Animals Used In Science: A Review Of Laws In The U.S.

The U.S. Animal Welfare Act completely ignores birds, rats, and mice used for research. This excluded group constitutes the vast majority (95%) of animals that undergo testing.

MONA ZAHIR: ‘The main U.S. law in place to protect laboratory animals is the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The AWA was passed by Congress in 1966 in response to public outcries over testing on dogs, some of whom were stolen pets. The AWA is meant to ensure protections for laboratory animals at the federal level, since many state animal cruelty laws exclude laboratory animals. These protections include regulations for adequate food, water, housing, and pain-relief. The main issues with the AWA are that the scope of its protections are very limited, and what protections it does offer are poorly enforced.

A huge, glaring limitation is the fact that the AWA completely excludes birds, rats, and mice bred for research. This excluded group constitutes the vast majority (by some estimates, around 95%) of animals who undergo testing. Another major limitation is the fact that pain relief can be denied to animals in cases where providing an analgesic would impact the results of the research. This loophole is undoubtedly easy to exploit: as long as a scientist or group of researchers claim that not using analgesics is scientifically “necessary” for their experiment, the animals under their care can be subject to suffering through any number of painful procedures. Other limiting clauses lead to consequences such as dogs housed in groups being denied exercise, and primates lacking in social enrichment.

On top of all of this, a 2014 report from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health found, through an audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, that the AWA is inadequately enforced. This means that laboratories can get away with faking compliance with these already-minimal standards without having a real chance of getting caught or punished once they are caught… A 2007 panel of experts from the National Research Council of the National Academies advised alternative testing methods for toxicity testing, citing unreliability in extrapolating from animal test results to humans as a primary concern’.  SOURCE…

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