There is no question that the rules that regulate animal research should be changed. While NAVS advocates for modifications that offer animals stronger protections and increased transparency surrounding animal experiments—and, ultimately, an end to the experiments entirely—animal research proponents have proposed radical changes to the Animal Welfare Act and government oversight that would negatively impact animal welfare.
Recently, members of prominent pro-animal research organizations held a workshop to “provide actionable recommendations for promoting regulatory efficiency, animal welfare, and sound science.” Ironically, many of the major recommendations made by the workshop participants would have a negative impact on laboratory animal welfare.
Included among the group’s published findings were the following recommendations:
- Creating a new advisory panel, composed only of animal researchers, to review regulations and policies for the care and use of laboratory animals;
- Changing Animal Welfare Act Regulations so that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews happen at least once every three years rather than annually;
- Exempting “low-risk, noninvasive, or minimally invasive” procedures using animals from full IACUC consideration, or making them eligible for review without concurrence by the full IACUC;
- Modifying the language in an Animal Care Policy that recommends literature searches for alternatives to animal testing; and
- Amending the Animal Welfare Act to remove the requirement for annual USDA inspections of research facilities and allowing inspection frequency to be based on compliance history.
While the animal research community claims that implementing these recommendations “would allow more time to be spent directly caring for animals,” it seems the only outcome of these changes would be reducing animal research oversight and giving the animal research community too much power over how animal experiments are regulated.
As a result of last December’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are required to “complete a review of applicable regulations and policies for the care and use of laboratory animals and make revisions, as appropriate, to reduce administrative burden on investigators while maintaining the integrity and credibility of research findings and protection of research animals” by December of 2018.
But reducing regulatory burden should not come at the expense of animal welfare, transparency and accountability.
As NAVS prepares our commentary to provide to these agencies, we will be sure to reach out to you to let you know more directly how you can help, as well.
Source: Cornwall, W. “United States should dramatically retool animal research rules, groups say.” Science. October 25, 2017.