It is quite apparent that the reporting system which
is used as part of the regulation of the use of animals in research is
seriously flawed. The fiscal 2001 Animal Welfare Enforcement Report, as
filed with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President
of the Senate, is seriously flawed. The statistics for primate usage are
substantially skewed so as to indicate a major reduction in the use of
primates in experimentation. The facts of the situation are that no
reduction took place, and that there may have actually been an increase,
though it is currently impossible to tell.
A historical examination of documents filed by major
primate laboratories with the National Institutes of Health has revealed
major discrepancies between these documents and reports filed by the
same facilities with the USDA/APHIS. It is entirely possible that
officials within these laboratories have purposely filed fraudulent
reports with the USDA/APHIS. These discrepancies are sufficient to cast
doubt on the entirety of the reporting system, especially when they are
combined with other potential erroneous reporting which has been
discussed relative to the fiscal 2001 AWER.
It is the conclusion of this author that the reporting
system for animal experimentation is in serious need of an overhaul. At
no time from 1992 to the present has the USDA been able to obtain
reports from all research facilities in the U.S., with the high for
non-reporting facilities reaching 128 in 1997. Yet, the USDA/APHIS/AC
website does not list any instances of facilities receiving a fine or
official warning for non-reporting.
The current system of reporting does not even cover
all animals. The totals listed in the AWER ignore animals confined
within a research or breeding facility that are not currently being used
in experimentation (i.e. animals being held for breeding, conditioning,
etc. that are not yet part of an experimental protocol). This allows a
significant number of laboratory animals to go uncounted, and
unreported. These animals may comprise as much as 40% of the laboratory
population for some species.