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Laboratory Animal Research News

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill included two amendments that would have adversely affected aspects of research with nonhuman animals.

By Sangeeta Panicker, PhD

FARM BILL UPDATE: Worrisome Amendments Dropped from Final Legislation

The long-delayed 2008 Farm Bill is finally law. On June 18, with overwhelming majorities, the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to override President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419). The final bill did not include two amendments that were of concern to the laboratory animal research community.

As reported in the January issue of the PSA, both the House and Senate versions of the bill included two amendments that would have adversely affected aspects of research with nonhuman animals. One was a ban on the Class B dealer sales of non-purpose bred dogs and cats for research. The second amendment was a prohibition against live animal demonstrations of medical devices for sales purposes. Both of these amendments were stricken from the final version of the bill. The only change made to the Animal Welfare Act was an increase in the maximum fine for violations from $2,500 to $10,000.

Although the final bill did not include language eliminating Class B dealers as a source for researchers to obtain non-purpose bred dogs and cats, it directs USDA to report to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on the results of the pending NIH study of its grantees’ reliance upon animals supplied by Class B dealers. This study was requested by the Senate Appropriations Committee when it acted on NIH funding for FY 2009.

APA had sent letters to the chairs of the Senate and House Agriculture Committee opposing these amendments. You can see the joint letter from Steve Breckler, Executive Director for Science, and Steve Dworkin, 2007 Chair of the Committee on Animal Research and Ethics on APA's website.

OLAW E-seminar Series

The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) recently made available the recorded version of the first OLAW Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Staff Online Seminar, “Preparing for Animal Rights Extremists at Your Institution.” Information about the seminar can be found on the U.S. Department of Health OLAW website. Earlier this summer OLAW commenced its free online seminar series, which is geared toward assisting IACUC staff and members in implementing current regulations for research with nonhuman animals. Although registration for the series is closed due to an overwhelming response, OLAW announced that all remaining seminars will also be recorded and be available for viewing on the OLAW web site.

New website Animals in Research website

The NIH Office of Extramural Research unveiled a new website dedicated to nonhuman animal research. The site contains information for researchers and institutions, as well as for students, educators, and the general public.

HSUS Campus Pledge to Prohibit Severe and Unrelieved Pain and Distress in Lab Animals

As part of its long-term campaign to eliminate all pain and distress in laboratory animals by the year 2020, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) invited academic institutions across the nation to sign a pledge to “to ensure that no animals at their institution experience severe and unrelieved pain and/or distress during any aspect of their care and use”. Of the 301 institutions that were contacted, to date only a small number have signed the pledge. This pledge drive is one aspect of the HSUS campaign on eliminating all pain and distress in laboratory animals. Other aspects of this campaign include regulatory and policy efforts, challenging institutions that receive significant amounts of federal funding for research on the under-reporting of pain and distress, and regular mailings of the “Pain and Distress Report” to IACUC staff across the country. More information about the HSUS Pain and Distress Campaign is available from the Humane Society.