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The Reporting of Animal Experimentation in the U.S.: Introduction
The Reporting of Animal Experimentation in the U.S.:
The Animal Welfare Enforcement Report (AWER -- now called the Animal Welfare Report) is a document that the Secretary of Agriculture is required by law (Animal Welfare Act – 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq. – specifically Section 23 of the Act) to file with the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The accuracy of this report is crucial to the evaluation of the overall condition of animals in areas covered by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), such as research and testing. It is highly possible that the funding for enforcement of the AWA may be effected by the number of animals it must protect.
The report is also used to discuss trends in areas such as experimentation. When discussions of the use of animals in experimentation begin, the AWER if often used as the starting point. Is animal experimentation increasing or decreasing? The only source for such statistics is the AWER.
The USDA issued the AWER for fiscal 2001 late in 2002. Upon initial examinations of the report it was quite apparent that significant discrepancies existed between the statistical portion of the report for 2001 and similar portions of the report for 2000. These discrepancies became most apparent in the area of the use of primates in experimentation. These statistics are broken down by state, and initial examinations brought up discrepancies in several states. However, as the 2001 AWER was examined more closely it was quite clear that major errors had been made.
The American Public, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have a right to know the truth. Therefore, this report has been assembled to delineate the discrepancies which are apparent in the 2001 AWER. This report will also discuss the 3-year reporting patterns of several large laboratories to illustrate the possibility that the USDA is receiving inaccurate and misleading information from the facilities it is regulating. It is hoped that this report will stimulate an investigation of the methods used by USDA/APHIS to compile the Animal Welfare Enforcement Report, and of the facilities that appear to be reporting inaccurately.
Two methods will be used to discuss the discrepancies in the AWER. First, comparisons will be made between state statistics (fiscal 2001) and compiled statistics for individual facilities within the same state (fiscal 2000). Many research facilities receive funding for experimentation from other government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These funding agencies often require annual reports to be filed which discuss the conduct of the actual experimentation, including the numbers of animals used. USDA inspection reports will also be used to point out potential discrepancies in the AWER.
All indications of errors in the AWER will be based on verified factual information from government documents. In one instance a comparison will be drawn between three years of USDA reports for several large laboratories versus reports filed by the same laboratories with the NIH. This comparison will be used to demonstrate that the occurrences which led to errors in the 2001 AWER are not isolated incidents.
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