August 10, 2018
NABR Interviewed for ALN Article on State Research Animal Adoption Legislation
On August 6 Laboratory Equipment published a piece entitled, “The Dangerous New Trend of Anti-Animal Research Legislation,” which is rightly critical of anti-research groups, like the White Coat Waste Project (WCWP). The piece, written by ALN Magazine Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Doughman, was prompted by a letter 27 Congressmen sent to Department of Interior (DOI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Smithsonian Institution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Defense (DoD).
NABR Vice President of Government Affairs, Michael Dingell, countered the letter by pointing out, “The adoption of former research animals is already a common practice across the United States. Research institutions work closely with staff and trusted adoption groups. The creation of laws mandating research animal adoptions creates an unnecessary middle man, raises research costs, and imposes undue stress on the animal, taking away time that the animal has in a loving, caring home.”
At the federal level, the WCWP has pushed several anti-research bills:
- FACT ACT (H.R.816): a so-called “transparency” bill that would require broad reporting of animal use data in federal research, research sponsored by the federal government and research required by the federal government.
- PUPPERS ACT (H.R.3197): would limit funding for VA canine research.
- KITTEN ACT (H.R.5780): would limit the use of feline models at the USDA.
At the state level, mandatory research bills have passed in Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Nevada with pending legislation in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. These bills are largely advocated by the Rescue + Freedom Project (R+FP), previously known as the Beagle Freedom Project.
NABR President Matthew Bailey summed up the need for continued vigilance and engagement by stating, “We're scratching the surface on the totality of the efforts against research committed by animal rights groups. This should serve as a wakeup call for research institutions to get their heads out of the sand and become more involved in the public policy process.”
You can always find out more about legislation here: https://www.nabr.org/nabr-members-only/member-resources/legislative/. NABR encourages biomedical institutions and professionals to have regular contact with both their state legislators and congressmen. For instance, you should contact your Representatives and Senators to strongly encourage them to support the inclusion of Rep. Rouzer Amendment to this year’s conference version of the farm bill.
VA Issues New Guidance Document on Research Animal Adoption
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Research & Development (ORD) released guidance document AR2018-001 on June 27 entitled, “Adoption of Research Animals Covered by the USDA Animal Welfare Act Regulations.” The document states the, “VA has historically taken, and continues to take the position that whenever possible, animals retired from participating in approved VA research protocols are to be placed through adoption as pets.”
This document is designed to build a more formalized process for the adoption of retired research animals. Of particular interest is the involvement of the General Services Administration (GSA), as research canines are considered federal property. The guidance document states explicitly, “Research animals are considered to be government property, and the GSA must approve the adoption as an excess property transaction.”
Outspoken animal research critic, Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), was critical of the VA guidance document, stating, “I don't think it is strong enough yet.” As expected, the White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) issued a hyperbolic statement on the issue, “Taxpayers bought the dogs, cats and other animals locked in VA's nightmarish labs, and we want Uncle Sam to give them back. Thanks to Congressman Brat’s leadership, the VA’s expensive, widely-opposed puppy testing has been slashed and animals who survived these and other abusive experiments can be freed.”
While this guidance document was released prior, it is likely connected to the July 27 letter from 27 Congressmen to federal research facilities which encourages several federal agencies to formalize adoption procedures.
NABR Comments on NIH Chimpanzee RFI, Comments Due August 10
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received from the NIH Council of Councils the report of its Working Group on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees and is seeking input on the recommendations. NABR has previously reported on this and has encouraged members to submit their own comments to the NIH. NABR’s comments can be viewed here: https://www.nabr.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/NABR-NIH-Chimpanzee-comments-for-submission.pdf. If you have not already done so, NABR encourages members to submit their own comments, as well. The NIH working group previously stated that chimpanzees should not go to the federal sanctuary if their health could be endangered by the relocation.
ATTENTION FLORIDA RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS: Action Needed!
The Florida open records exemption for personal identifying information of animal researcher staff is set to sunset, or expire, on October 2, 2019 unless the legislature renews this provision. In this case, the current protections against public disclose for the following would be removed:
(a) Animal records, including animal care and treatment records.
(b) Research protocols and approvals.
(c) Purchasing, funding, and billing records related to animal research or activities.
(d) Animal care and use committee records.
(e) Facility and laboratory records related to animal research or activities.
This critical exemption, which was originally enacted in response to egregious targeting by animal rights groups, protects university employees from criminal targeting by animal rights extremists. Your action is needed urgently, contact your state legislators and let them know that Title XXXV, Chapter 585, Subsection 611 must be renewed to protect your institutions and your researchers and your animal care staff.
You can identify your Florida House of Representatives here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx and your Florida State Senator here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find.
WCWP Claims VA is Violating the Law
The White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) posted in their blog on August 9 that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is violating a law which “defunded” canine research at the VA. The catalyst for this post was the Cleveland VA Medical Center spending $42,721 on research canines, as reported by WRIC Richmond. WCWP supporters, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), have sent a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie expressing concern by stating that, “these purchases may be prohibited” and “appear to be an attempt to circumvent anticipated FY19 funding restrictions on dog testing.”
Reps. Titus and Brat reference language in the FY18 Omnibus as well as the FY19 MilCon-VA Bill they claim prohibit this purchase by the VA. However, the language in question suggests something different. The verbatim language is as follows:
“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to conduct research using canines unless: the scientific objectives of the study can only be met by research with canines; the study has been directly approved by the Secretary; and the study is consistent with the revised Department of Veterans Affairs canine research policy document released on December 18, 2017: Provided, That not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a detailed report outlining under what circumstances canine research may be needed, if there are no other alternatives, how often it was used during that time period, and what protocols are in place to determine both the safety and efficacy of the research.”
The language quoted above clearly does not defund canine research, rather it outlines the circumstances in which research with canines is permitted. NABR will continue to interface with the VA and Congress to impress upon them the life-saving benefits of animal research.
AAVMC Discusses Importance of Canine Research on Capitol Hill
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) hosted a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill on July 19 titled, “‘It’s a Dog’s Life’ (that may save yours!).” The briefing featured remarks from the following noted scientists:
- The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' Director of Clinical Innovation Dr. Michael G. Kurilla outlined the value of translational research for assembled guests.
- Tufts University School of Medicine Cardiologist Dr. Gordon Huggins discussed research into Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in cat models.
- UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Radiation Oncology Professor Dr. Michael Kent discussed "The Dog as a Model of Human Cancer."
- UC-Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Investigator for Cancer Immunotherapy Dr. Arta M. Monjazeb discussed "Cancer Immunotherapy: Re-awakening the Immune System to Cure Cancer."
This briefing could not come at a better time, with NABR working to fight White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) legislation like the PUPPERS Act and KITTEN Act. Briefings like this by members of the research community are critical to communicating the necessity of animal models to legislators. More research organizations and NABR members should be actively engaged in efforts like this at the state and federal level. NABR applauds AAVMC for this effort.
DxE Activists Seek to Visit Farm They Stole From
As NABR has previously reported, five animal rights extremists are each facing 60 years in prison for stealing a piglet from a farm in Beaver County, Utah in 2017. This group, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), is now demanding they be allowed to return to the very same Smithfield Foods’ Circle Four Farms they stole from to inspect conditions at that location.
The activists, including DxE co-founder Wayne Hsiung, were charged by the Utah Attorney General’s Office in May. As of this writing, all the defendants have been booked on these charges, according to Matt Johnson, the Press Coordinator for DxE. Johnson further stated that after their court appearances, the activists, “demand[ed] that farm staff allow them to inspect and audit the farm to determine if animal welfare has improved.”
USDA Enhancing Outreach and Communication to Attending Veterinarians
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has launched a new initiative to strengthen outreach and communication with the attending veterinarian community. APHIS’ Deputy Administrator for Animal Care, Bernadette Juarez, has released a two-minute video on YouTube detailing this new initiative. Additionally, all attending veterinarians at Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulated facilities should be receiving a letter from APHIS on this initiative as well. On the second page of the letter is a list of Supervisory Animal Care Specialists for the benefit of attending veterinarians.
In acknowledgement of the fact that attending veterinarians are not always on-site during an inspection, the Deputy Administrator states, “you may receive occasional calls from our inspectors either during or after an on-site inspection to follow up on a facility’s program of veterinary care.” Animal Care inspectors will now be more regularly interfacing directly with attending veterinarians. The USDA Inspection Guide has been updated to reflect these changes.
ICCVAM Releases Biennial Progress Report for 2016-2017
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) has released the Biennial Progress Report for 2016 and 2017 from the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM). The full report is available here: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/iccvamreport/2017/index.html. The period covered by this report is January 2016 through December 2017.
Some of the key accomplishments summarized in the report are a strategic roadmap for incorporating techniques for safely testing chemicals and medical products, reduction in the number of hamsters required for leptospirosis vaccine testing, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Predictive Toxicology Roadmap, development of non-animal approaches, among others.
For further information or clarification, you may contact Dr. Warren Casey, Director, NICEATM; email: email@example.com; telephone: (984) 287-3118.
H.R. 816, also known as the FACT Act, seeks to add a full census of animals used, required or sponsored by the federal government for testing to the biannual ICCVAM report. The FACT Act is a White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) legislative initiative.
(SACATM) Meeting Notice: September 5-6
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods (SACATM) has released a notice to inform the public and interested parties about their next scheduled meeting on September 5-6. The meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) each day and continue until adjournment. You may register for attendance, oral comment, or webcast here: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/32822. The preliminary agenda, registration, and other meeting materials can also be found here: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/32822.
For more information on written and oral comment, registration deadlines, and location please see the notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/08/07/2018-16840/scientific-advisory-committee-on-alternative-toxicological-methods-announcement-of-meeting-request.
Scientists Express Concerns Over Max Planck Society Actions
As reported by Speaking of Research, a number of scientists and scientific societies have spoken out publicly about actions taken by the Max Planck Society (MPS) against Professor Nikos K. Logothetis. Prof. Logothetis is the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPI-BC).
Dr. Logothetis announced in 2015 he would no longer use non-human primate (NHP) models in his research on cognitive processes, and the decision was due to a lack of support from his institution after an anti-research campaign began against him in 2014. This came despite the fact investigations found no serious violations of animal care and MPS’ defense of NHP models for neuroscience research. The background on this case is long and detailed, but can be read here: https://speakingofresearch.com/2018/06/07/max-planck-societys-actions-raise-serious-concerns-about-leadership-and-the-future-of-german-neuroscience/.
In response, an open letter was drafted by scientists, many of whom are members of the Speaking of Research committee. The letter, directed to MPS President Dr. Martin Stratmann, states, “MPS failed to provide immediate and substantial protection and support for the scientists. Most recently, MPS has acted in a manner that suggests they are publicly incriminating Prof. Logothetis.”
This letter is signed by the Supporting Truth about Animal Research (STAR) Coalition, which includes: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, American Psychological Association, American Society of Primatologists, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Comparative Cognition Society, International Study Group Investigating Drugs as Reinforcers, and Research Society on Alcoholism. This letter is also co-signed by the Italian Society for Neuroscience and Mediterranean Neuroscience Society.
The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and Society for Neuroscience (SfN) have released a joint letter of support for Dr. Logothetis as well.
To add your voice to the growing list of scientists and scientific organization expressing concern, click here: https://speakingofresearch.com/2018/07/25/open-letter-regarding-the-max-planck-societys-actions-against-mpi-bc-director-prof-logothetis/
Tom Leach of NJABR and PSBR Strongly Defends Animal Research in Radio Interview
On August 1, New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR) Executive Director Tom Leach was interviewed by Trent Loos on the Rural Route Radio program, which focuses on the urban-rural divide in America. Tom discussed the facts and myths surrounding animal research and expertly articulated many other topics of importance including medical advancements, animal activism, criminal activity, and current public policy threats to biomedical research. Listen to the entire interview here: http://ruralrouteradio.com/affiliates/wedruralroute.mp3