Science reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made a significant and secret change to laboratory animal welfare practices in 2019. The agency apparently only inspects some of the 1,100 facilities that house biomedical research animals, instead of the previous robust practices.
The agency mandated “focused” inspects for labs accredited by an organization called AAALAC International, a private organization of veterinarians and scientists. Katherine Meyer, director of Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic, said her student discovered the change after combing through internal documents.
Meyer believes the policy violates the Animal Welfare’s Law of the USDA’s role of enforcing the “minimum requirements for handling, housing, [and] feeding” biomedical research animals. “How do you ensure that labs are in compliance with those standards if USDA is doing incomplete inspections?” she told Science.
Harvard Law Student Brett Richey, who uncovered the documents shared, “This means that for several years now the USDA has been lying to the public about its inspection policy for research labs––it surreptitiously put into place a policy that was overwhelmingly opposed by the public. This is appalling on so many levels–the indifference to tens of thousands of animals subjected to debilitating diseases that deserve our care, deferring to an industry-dominated group, and lying to the public about official government policy when the public overwhelmingly opposed it.”
Sign this petition to ask the USDA to enforce animal welfare standards.
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