MPI Research of Mattawan fined $6,911 for Animal Welfare Act violations; watchdog groups says that's too little

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Please contact Elizabeth Goldentyre to tell her that issuing a measly fine of $6,911 against MPI Research for the deaths of three animals (1 dog, 1 primate, 1 pig) and other violations is a the same as letting this lab get away with murder.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
USDA/APHIS/AC
920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 2000
Raleigh, NC 27606
Betty.J.Goldentyer@usda.gov   

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2013/05/mpi_research_of_mattawan_fined.html

MPI Research of Mattawan fined $6,911 for Animal Welfare Act violations; watchdog groups says that's too little

SAEN logo MPI article May 20By Al Jones, Michigan Live, Monday, May 20, 2013

Stop Animal Exploitation Now says a fine issued by the USDA against Mattawan-based MPI Research is not enough to force the company to change what SAEN considers improper animal-handling.

MATTAWAN, MI – Scientific testing company MPI Research was fined $6,911 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday for violations of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. The violations were cited during 2011 and 2012.

But the animal rights group that filed the complaints that triggered the fine said that is a paltry amount that does not begin to punish the company or provide an incentive for large research companies to treat animals better.

“It’s roughly 11 percent of what they could have been fined,” Michael A. Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, said of the fine.

Budkie said violations of the Animal Welfare Act can result in fines of up to $10,000 each. MPI was cited for four violations after a USDA inspector visited in September of 2011 and for two violation from May of 2012.

Attempts were not successful late Monday to contact Joan Manners, senior director of marketing for Mattawan-based MPI Research. She has stated in the past, however, that MPI Research is "committed to a humane and ethical work environment, continually works to develop and maintain the highest standards required by law and regulations, and works to ensure the highest standards of (animal) care."

Visits by an inspector were in response to complaints leveled by SAEN and information provided by an unnamed former MPI worker who reported there were incidents of improper handling and care of laboratory animals between August of 2004 and June of 2009. Past complaints filed by SAEN, a national research watchdog group based in Milford, Ohio, allege mistreatment resulted in the need to euthanize a dog, a pig and two primates.

The violations are relevant to Monday's fine relate to a primate, dog, and a pig who all required euthanasia after receiving injuries due to improper handling, and one primate who had lost 75% of all body hair, according to SAEN

“The market value for a primate is $5,000,” Budkie said Monday afternoon. “ … The point then is: compared to what they could have been fined, compared to the value of the animals, this fine is almost nothing, especially when you talk about a large business like MPI and how much they bring in every year.”

MPI is a privately held company that does not disclose it sales and revenues. It is contracted by pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, research organizations and others to conduct safety and efficacy studies on pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

According to a USDA report, as of Aug. 3, of 2011, MPI laboratories had 1,295 monkeys on site, the majority being crab-eating macaques.

The primates, dog and pig that were apparently euthanized at the research facility after allegedly suffering broken bones or other trauma, supposedly a result of negligence or being mishandled, the whistle-blower alleged.

“Fines are supposed to have a punitive value,” Budkie said. “They’re supposed to have enough impact on the entity fined to force them to change their behaviors. A $6,900 fine is not going to force MPI to do anything.”

Assuming the incidents reported by the whistleblower earlier were not the only incidents of improper treatment of animals, he said SAEN would like to hear of other incidents from others who work for the company. SAEN can be contacted directly or anonymously at 513-575-5517 or via saen@saenonline.org.

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