USDA Cancels Plan to Give Third Parties Oversight of Animal Research Facilities
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Ryan Merkle, Physicians Committee
May 2018

USDA will NOT use non-governmental “third parties” to help enforce the Animal Welfare Act.... The “third party” that would have taken on the role of assisting USDA at research facilities was the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC)—a private organization that regularly accredits severe violators of the Animal Welfare Act.

On May 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will NOT use non-governmental “third parties” to help enforce the Animal Welfare Act. The agency proposed this idea last winter, and the Physicians Committee and our supporters fought back. Thank you for making this happen!

USDA’s proposal would have impacted the millions of animals in laboratories. The “third party” that would have taken on the role of assisting USDA at research facilities was the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC)—a private organization that regularly accredits severe violators of the Animal Welfare Act.

The members of AAALAC’s Council on Accreditation are from the very facilities the organization accredits. Also, AAALAC would keep its findings confidential, so the public would have been left in the dark. The idea of such a group assisting a federal agency in its legal obligations was indefensible.

We pushed back against this plan from the outset:

  • We worked with other organizations to share information and present unified opposition to USDA’s plan.
  • In February, at a public meeting at USDA’s Animal Care headquarters, I presented our criticism of the plan to agency leaders. I closed my statement with this: “Allowing laboratories to regulate themselves is not the answer.”
  • We asked you to submit comments to the agency, and you did! The agency wrote today that “the vast majority of the comments” from the public were opposed to the plan.
  • In March, our formal comments were submitted to USDA. We argued that the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to cede oversight to third parties.

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