April 23, 2018
House Version of Farm Bill Passes out of Committee
Last Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee advanced the farm bill (H.R. 2) on a party-line vote. As NABR previously reported, disagreements over nutrition provisions caused significant partisan fighting over this bill. While the farm bill was reported out of committee by Republicans (26-20), it is currently unclear when, or in what manner, the bill will be brought to the House floor for a vote. Some anticipate a continued partisan debate over the bill. During the markup, the committee approved 18 amendments via voice vote, but no amendments were related to animal research. The only animal-related amendment that was adopted during the markup was a prohibition on the importation of dog or cat meat for human consumption. Additionally, the Senate Agriculture Committee has indicated they intend to write a more bipartisan bill, although timing for the introduction of a Senate version remains uncertain.
HSLF Announces New President
On Tuesday the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) announced that Michael Markarian, the Chief Operating Officer of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), will now begin serving in the role of HSLF Executive Vice President. He is being replaced as President by Sara Amundson, who has worked for animal protection causes for 30 years, starting her career in 1988 with the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL). Amundson was legislative director for DDAL when the organization merged with HSUS in 2006, at which point she became HSLF’s executive director. Markarian served as HSLF President for 13 years.
PETA and DxE Protests Likely during WDAIL and WWAIL
As previously reported by NABR, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) has protest events planned across the globe today for World Day for Animals in Labs (WDAIL). Chapters are being encouraged to target, “a university involved in animal research, a government institution that regulates or oversees animal research or a company that profits off animal research. Activists can recreate a scene from an animal research facility, with one or more activists in a cage (possibly covered in fake blood or other visual) and others acting as researchers wearing lab coats, with fake syringes, etc.” NABR Update readers can view their Facebook page to see details on each event: please click here.
In related news, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently recorded a podcast titled, “Vivisection Hell” featuring PETA’s research associate, Jeremy Beckham. Beckham discussed various infiltrations and campaigns against the animal research industry. Near the end of the podcast Beckham claimed PETA activists would be targeting canine muscular dystrophy research. Beckham did not specifically mention World Day and World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WDAIL and WWAIL), but supporters were urged to be more active in PETA’s campaign against Texas A&M University. This time of year typically coincides with higher levels of animal rights activities. NABR advises member institutions to work closely with security and crisis management teams and remain vigilant. If your institution does not have a crisis management plan in place, NABR’s Crisis Management Guide can be downloaded here (membership login credentials required).
University of Delaware Researcher Targeted by PETA
PETA alleges that a University of Delaware researcher subjected rats to "psychologically distressing and painful experiments." Complaints from the animal rights group were submitted April 11 to University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis and to Diana Bianchi, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The American Psychological Association (APA) issued a statement defending and acknowledging animal research for contributing "to our understanding of fundamental processes such as learning, memory, cognition, communication, motivation and emotion." To read Delaware news coverage of the story, please click here. Readers will remember a similar scenario where PETA targeted the research of Christine Lattin, a postdoc at Yale University, for her study with birds. Some activity has been focused on Lattin in 2018, including an advertised February 28 protest at a Yale seminar.
A Closer Look at the White Coat Waste Project: Follow the Money
Washington, DC has frequently been referred to as “the swamp” by politicos, media and lawmakers alike in reference to the suggestion it is filled with corruption and cronyism. The White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) has seized upon this opportunity by vowing itself to “drain the swamp” in an effort to end federal funding of research projects involving animals. An August 2017 look by NABR at the White Coat Waste Political Action Committee’s (PAC) donations available through Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports showed the PAC contributed $2,500.00 to Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), sponsor of H.R. 816, the FACT Act. The FACT Act has been promoted extensively by the organization as a way to improve government accountability by requiring a census of all animals in research used by, supported by, or required by the federal government to be reported to Congress every two years. FEC filings also show the WCW PAC has supported Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) with a $5,000 contribution to his campaign. Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA), Brian Mast (R-FL), and Dina Titus (D-NV), all of whom support the FACT Act and are listed as cosponsors of H.R. 3197, the PUPPERS Act, a bill to prohibit the Veterans Administration (VA) from conducting Category D or E studies with canines, each received over $2,500 or more in donations from the WCW PAC. It deserves to be noted that Sen. Heller as well as Reps. Brat and Mast were also awarded WCW’s 2017 “Congressional Waste Warrior” award.
FEC filings now show the organization has made $500 donations at the state level to Virginia State Senators Glen Sturtevant and Bill Stanley, both of whom sponsored Senate Bill 28 in the state house. WCWP proclaims they “worked closely with the Senators, testified in favor of the legislation, and rallied [their] nearly 10,000 members in Virginia to urge lawmakers to support the bill.” Now law, S.B. 28 prohibits the use of any of the state of Virginia’s funds for studies with dogs or cats that are classified under Category E by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Category E studies are those that involve pain without analgesics or anesthesia. However, no state-funded research institutions in Virginia have reported engaging in Category E studies with dogs or cats for nearly a decade.
In NABR’s August 2017 examination of the WCW PAC’s report to the FEC, WCW PAC noted having $17,547.14 cash on hand. According to OpenSecrets.org, that number has been reduced to $3,990. WCW PAC has not received a donation of more than $200 since December 28, 2017 when Anthony Bellotti, WCWP’s President and Founder, donated $3,400.
Should Chimps Have Same Legal Rights as People? NYU Professor Thinks So.
The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) submitted an amicus brief in the State of New York Court of Appeals on February 23 arguing that two chimpanzees, Kiko and Tommy, should be granted habeas corpus, or legal personhood. The brief was signed by 16 people including New York University (NYU) Professor Jeff Sebo. Sebo told the Washington Square News, NYU’s independent student newspaper, “I think that personhood should be based on features such as conscious experience which are widely shared on the phylogenetic tree, which many non-human animals have, independently of how intelligent they happen to be or how similar to humans they happen to be.” NABR Update readers will recall, NhRP lost a similar lawsuit in February of last year and July of 2015. Another New York case was dismissed in 2014. According to her quote in the student newspaper, Vice President at The Primate Sanctuary, Carmen Presti, is not concerned, saying that NhRP has, “lost every case in court, and it’s just a waste of my time and taxpayers’ money.” Presti added, “It’s beating a dead horse. They keep trying different angles, and they just keep losing.” To read the news coverage of this amicus brief, please click here.
NhRP submitted last week a Motion for Articulation with the Connecticut Appellate Court regarding their case for personhood for three Connecticut elephants. “Through our Motion, we are asking the Superior Court to adequately explain its reasoning with reference to specific Connecticut judicial precedent, rules, or statutes,” wrote NhRP in their blog. The Motion filed last week follows their March 16, 2018 Notice of Appeal when a judge ruled to deny the elephants personhood.
PETA “Fact Sheet” on Medical Charities
Ever wonder what PETA promotes as approved medical-related charities? PETA has announced a “fact sheet” on such charities on its website. PETA’s webpage targets charities for requesting donations to help the patient community, specifically those funding animal research. The American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, the Shriners Burns Institute, and the Boys Town National Research Hospital were specifically listed as organization that fund animal research. The posting by PETA also recommends that philanthropists “…give to deserving charities that directly help people without hurting animals.” The group claims such organizations include Easter Seals, Helen Keller International, the Children’s Burn Foundation, the Avon Foundation for Women, Birth Defect Research for Children, Children’s Oncology Group, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, Gateway for Cancer Research, Organization for Autism Research, and the Spina Bifida Association of America.
Director of NIH’s Center for Scientific Review Announces Retirement
It was announced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that Dr. Richard Nakamura, Director of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), will be retiring at the end of this month after a 39-year career at the NIH. Noni Byrnes, Ph.D., will be serving as acting director. She had previously served as acting deputy director at CSR since January and director of CSR's Division of Basic and Integrative Biological Sciences since 2012. Noni was also chief of CSR's Cell Biology Integrated Review Group between 2006 and 2012 and the Scientific Review Officer for the Enabling Bioanalytical and Biophysical Technologies study section between 2000 and 2006. In an emailed press release by NIH’s Director Dr. Francis Collins announcing the retirement, he thanked Dr. Nakamura and gave the following praise and appreciation: “Richard is a staunch defender of the quality of NIH-supported research, and has always done so whenever the opportunity arose - whether it was on Capitol Hill, at national and international forums, or with the media.” NABR wishes Dr. Nakamura well in his retirement and thanks him for his decades of support for animal research and the advancement of science.
Opinion: ‘Why science is being more open about animals in research’
In an opinion piece written by Dr. Sarah Bailey, Chair of the Animal Research Forum at the University of Bath, printed in The Guardian last week, she discusses how transparency in animal research must be a priority for scientists. Bailey also takes a close examination at how both the U.K. and her own university have taken strides to embrace additional openness. To read the piece in The Guardian, please click here.
Animal Law Conference 2018 in Chicago
The Animal Law Conference 2018 is scheduled for October 12 to 14 in Chicago, IL. The event will be hosted at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile Hotel located at 540 North Michigan Avenue. Of important note for NABR members and supporters is the panel titled: “We Can See You: Legal Strategies to Increase Industry Transparency and Accountability.” Speaking on this panel will be Laura Hagen, Deputy Director of Advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Matthew Liebam, Director of Litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Michelle Welch, Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.