NAVS continues to demand transparency from our government regarding the use of animals in research, teaching and testing because the current level of recordkeeping and reporting on animal use in the U.S. is inferior to methods used elsewhere in the world.
A lack of transparency regarding animal use has a negative effect on animal welfare, as understanding trends in animal use helps identify what areas should be prioritized for the development of alternatives and areas where available alternatives may not be used to their full potential.
Since data on the use of mice, rats, birds and fish are not maintained in this country because the animals are not covered under the Animal Welfare Act, we have no idea how many animals are actually used in experiments every year. The government also fails to collect and report on the purpose of their use in research, issues that NAVS has been trying to correct.
The good news is that the U.S. can look to other countries as examples of how to improve our record collection and reporting.
For instance, just this month, for the first time, Great Britain released an important set of statistics that have gone unappreciated by many: the number of non-genetically altered animals that were bred for scientific procedures but were killed or died without being used in any scientific procedures. Although these animals count towards the total number of animals used in science, they have not been covered in Great Britain’s annual statistics on animal use, which focuses only on the number of animals used in experimental procedures and the number of animals involved in creating and breeding genetically-altered animals that were not used in experimental procedures.
What kinds of animals fall into this new category? Those involved in breeding; those used to provide tissue samples but not subjected to regulated procedures; those that were the wrong gender for a particular purpose; and those that were a surplus resulting from the breeding of animals to ensure an adequate supply for scientific purposes.
How many animals fall into this new category? This report revealed that an alarming 1.81 million animals—mainly mice, rats and fish—were bred for scientific purposes but were killed or died without being used in scientific procedures in 2017 alone. When considered in combination with the 1.9 million animals that are involved in the creation or breeding of genetically-altered animals not used in experimental procedures and the 1.82 million animals used in experimental procedures that had been accounted for in Great Britain’s annual statistics, this new subset of animals accounts for a third of all animals used.
While the sheer magnitude of animal use in Great Britain is very concerning, we applaud their openness and transparency about animal use. The United States needs to take similar steps to ensure we have a better understanding of animal use in our country as well.
Please click here to send a pre-written letter to your U.S. Senators and Representatives today, asking them to introduce an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act to restore its protections to mice, rats and birds used for research and to increase the quality of recordkeeping and reporting of animal use in our country.