February 9, 2018

Life after Research: From Hopkins to Forever Homes
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New Research Animal Adoption State Bills

Three research animal adoption bills have surfaced in Maryland and Rhode Island. On Feb. 1, 2018, Senate Bill 675 was introduced to the Maryland State Senate, and House Bill 732 was introduced to the Maryland House of Representatives. The same day, House Bill 7414 was introduced to the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Similar bills were introduced in both states last year, but ultimately failed. Research animal adoption bills are lobbied by the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) (now the Rescue+Freedom Project, or RFP), an anti-animal research organization. The legislation would require all research facilities to adopt out dogs and cats that are no longer needed in studies, despite the fact that this is already common practice. The vast majority of research institutions have developed and coordinated adoption programs with great success. Should the bills become law, more arduous restrictions on animal research, such as limits on the length of studies, overly burdensome reporting requirements, and expansion of coverage to include nonhuman primates or rodents, are likely to follow.

BFP claims its mission is to find homes for animals, but the organization has publicly called for an end to all animal research and testing. The Maryland bill is also supported by Baltimore animal rights group Show Your Soft Side, which recently bought a billboard ad for the “Beagle Bill” featuring Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver Torrey Smith.

Maryland’s SB675 is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 27 at 1:00 p.m. with the Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, while HB732 awaits a hearing. A hearing has not been announced for Rhode Island’s H7414. NABR staff will continue monitoring these bills and provide updates as necessary.

Bill Proposing Ban on Dog and Cat Research Funding Advances in Virginia

Senate Bill 28, which targets funding for research in Virginia involving dogs and cats, passed the Senate Finance Committee this week. The bill was amendedto prohibit money from the state’s general fund for supporting public or private research with dogs or cats that a.) is considered “medically unnecessary”, or b.) causes “significant pain or distress” to the animal. The bill includes a civil penalty of up to $50,000 per incident. “Medically unnecessary” is defined as “not carried out solely for the better health, welfare, or safety of the animal subject.” To the best of NABR’s knowledge, no public or private institutions in Virginia use state general funds for such research, rendering the current language largely ineffective. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

WCW's Bellotti Profiled by STAT

Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of the animal rights organization the White Coat Waste Project (WCW), was featured in a recent article in STAT news. The story, which gives an in-depth look into Bellotti’s past, also discusses WCW’s supposed involvement in pressuring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to shut down a nicotine-addiction study using monkeys. Since the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement regarding the termination of the nicotine study, animal rights groups have been taking credit. WCW launched a campaign against the FDA in 2017 urging them to stop the study, and “While the FDA did not cite Bellotti or his organization…in its suspension of the monkey nicotine tests, both supporters and detractors credit him with exposing what the FDA characterized as testing ‘deficiencies’ that contributed to the monkey deaths.” While Bellotti claims to be against taxpayer-funded research only, with “no stance” on the use of animals in research altogether, previous activities and WCW fundraising appeals suggest otherwise. View the full article here. NABR President Matthew R. Bailey provided comments on a similar CNN article about the FDA’s decision, which can be viewed here.

ALDF Continues Legal Battle Against USDA for Restoration of Open Records

In response to the recent dismissal of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by a coalition of animal rights groups, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has filed an opening brief appealing the dismissal. The initial lawsuit filed in Feb. 2017 argued that the USDA’s decision to remove the Animal Care Information System (ACIS) database hosted by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). On Jan. 18, 2018, District Judge Christopher Cooper dismissed the case, concluding the claims were moot considering most of the documents had since been reposted by APHIS. Further, he explained, the petitioners could file a FOIA request to request any documents that the agency had not reposted, allowing APHIS to decide to redact or withhold the documents. In the opening brief, ALDF “argues that FOIA provides jurisdiction to the court – and to assert that the court does not, is tantamount to erasing the reading room requirement from the statute.” Current law requires any document that has been requested three times via FOIA be made accessible in an electronic reading room. In response to the ruling, ALDF wrote in a  press release, “Obtaining animal welfare records through traditional FOIA requests significantly burdens countless animal protection organizations and other agencies.” ALDF is joined in the lawsuit by Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), Companion Animal Protection Society, and Animal Folks.

'Jump in Animal Research in Canada Generates Debate on Science Ethics'

According to an article published in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa-based Canadian Council on Animal Care found a 21 percent increase in the use of animals in research over the last year, and a 50 percent increase over the past five years. Some critics feel Canada has been slow-moving toward animal alternatives in research and as a result, medical discoveries have been lagging. “Overreliance on animal research has significantly hindered our understanding of human biology and disease, and made drug development and chemical safety testing a failure-prone endeavor,” said Charu Chandrasekera, executive-director of the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods and its subsidiary, the Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods. Meanwhile, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins feels the movement to adopt alternatives to animal testing and research is well underway in America. As he told a congressional subcommittee, “Animal safety testing for environmental chemicals and drugs will largely be replaced by alternative research methods in a decade.” Some individuals also argue that animal research does not translate well to humans.

However, even with the progress the scientific community has seen in the application of the 3Rs, researchers still find the use of animals to be critically important and widely necessary to further medical understanding. The Vancouver Sun article also included the perspectives of scientists who explained the value of animal research in their work. Johns Hopkins researcher Thomas Hartung said, “Animals have made our world a safer place. We have a lot of medicine developed with the help of animals. There is no doubt about it.” Fabio Rossi, professor of medical genetics and director of the University of British Columbia’s Biomedical Research Center, advocated for greater transparency as a means to earning more public understanding, trust, and support: “There has been a culture of secrecy in institutions for too many years. We’re quite proud of what we do. We’re not ashamed.” Read the article here.

Congress Passes Sweeping Budget Deal

It’s been a chaotic week on the hill with Congress working to pass some sort of budget deal to prevent a government shutdown. Finally, after the brief five and a half hours of a government shutdown, Congress passed a sweeping budget deal early this morning. Both sides came to an agreement with a deal that will raise the spending caps by $300 billion in the next two years for both defense and nondefense programs, voting in favor of the bill (HR1892) 240-186. Included in the budget package is funding to keep federal agencies open through Mar. 23, giving time for the House and Senate Appropriations panels to negotiate an omnibus spending bill that will fund the agencies through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Many Democrats and Republicans are satisfied with the passage of the bill with the lift on spending caps helping to fund the military and nondefense programs, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated, “Funding for education, infrastructure, fighting drug abuse, and medical research will all, for the first time in years, get very significant increases, and we have placed Washington on a path to deliver more help to the middle class in the future.”

Snapshot of Congressional Retirements

Are they well beyond retirement age? Were they pressured by their involvement in a scandal? Are they beleaguered by the partisanship in Washington? Lately it seems each week at least one Member of Congress announces his or her resignation or decision to not seek reelection. NABR decided to take a closer look.

So far this year, 50 members of the 115th Congress have retired; 16 Democrats and 34 Republicans. Twenty will vacate their seats in pursuit of higher office. On average, each has served 7 terms (14 years), introduced 97 bills, and voted against their party 8% of the time (remaining House Members voted against their party 6% of the time). Collectively, newly-retired Members of Congress held 27 committee chairmanships, served 371 terms, and introduced 4,865 bills, of which only 223 were enacted. Find the complete list of names below. Is your state’s Representative among them?

Rep. Martha McSally (R-2)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-9)
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49)

Rep. Ed Royce

Rep. Jared Polis (D-2)
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-6)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-27)
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-1)
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-1)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-4)
Rep. Luke Messer (R-6)
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-4)
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-2)
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-3)
Rep. John Delaney (D-6)
Former Rep. John Conyers (D-13)
Rep. Sandy Levin (D-9)
Rep. David “Dave” Trott (R-11)
Rep. Tim Walz (D-1)
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-3)
Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-4)
Rep. Jacklyn “Jacky” Rosen (D-3)
New Hampshire
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-1)
New Jersey
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11)
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2)
New Mexico
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-1)
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-2)
Rep. Jim Renacci (R-16)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-1)
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-11)
Rep. Robert “Bob” Brady (D-1)
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-15)
Rep. Patrick “Pat” Meehan (R-7)
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-9)
South Carolina
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-4)
South Dakota
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-1)
Rep. Diane Black (R-6)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-7)
Rep. John “Jimmy Duncan (R-2)
Rep. Joe Barton (R-6)
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-27)
Rep. Gene Green (D-29)
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-5)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-3)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-16)
Rep. Ted Poe (R-2)
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-21)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-6)
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8)
West Virginia
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-3)


The International Consortium for Innovation & Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ) and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) is accepting nominations for The Global 3Rs Awards Program. The Awards Program “recognizes significant innovative contributions toward the 3Rs of animal research to advance ethical science, by any researcher in academia or industry in any area of biology.” As many as four Global Awards (North America, Europe, Pacific Rim, and the Rest of the World) will be presented in 2018 for $5,000 each. Nominations should include a primary research paper that advances any of the 3Rs and has been published in a peer-reviewed journal in the last three years. For more information about the award and nominations, click here.

AAALAC is also accepting applications for The AAALAC International Fellowship Award, which recognizes one IAT Registered (RAnTech) and one AALAS Registered (RALAT, RLAT, RLATG, CMAR), “who have made (or have the potential to make) significant contributions to the field of laboratory animal care and use.” Application packages are due June 1. Please click here for more information.

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