World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week

World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week is the week that surrounds April 24th every year - It's a national week of protests, media events, etc. at laboratories to stop testing and research on animals

Media Coverage - 2002

 
 From the Website of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Animal-Rights Group Says NIH Supports Unnecessary Duplication in Research

By RICHARD MORGAN

The National Institutes of Health supports numerous projects involving animal research that duplicate other projects and amount to a "waste" of tax funds, an animal-rights group charges in a new report.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, based in Cincinnati, released the report Tuesday. The organization examined an NIH database -- Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects -- that compiles information on all federally financed biomedical research projects at the NIH and other agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and searched for key words including "mouse," "rat," "dog," "cat," "rabbit," "guinea," "hamster," "macaca" (the Latin name for macaques) and "saimiri" (squirrel monkeys). The report does not include animal testing conducted by or supported by other federal agencies, like the National Science Foundation.

The animal-rights group called its findings "very disturbing" and "potentially catastrophic." It highlighted an exploration of experiments dealing with cocaine addiction -- 286 projects studying the effects of cocaine in rats, 109 studying the same effects in mice, and 55 studying the same effects in macaques -- as a prime example of the NIH's "bottomless pit of duplication that accomplishes nothing other than funneling hundreds of millions of tax dollars into the coffers of nationally known laboratories" and ends up "defrauding" taxpayers.

"The surgical maneuvers are the same. The issues being addressed and measured are the same," said Michael A. Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now. "They've had their chance. If they're just doing the same thing over and over again, that's a problem. Even if you don't care about the animals, you should care about the money."

The group's audit, self-described as "conservative," also called into question the ethics of members in the institutional animal-care-and-use committees, which oversee NIH grant approval, by casting them as "a good ol' boys network where 'I'll approve your research if you'll approve mine'" and where "it appears the only real motivation may be to approve every project because each additional grant brings more money into the laboratory."

Although Stop Animal Exploitation Now acknowledged that its analysis is limited in that it does not include animal research based on NIH funds not drawn from grants, like research contracts, and cannot represent all federal spending on animal research, it defended its findings by arguing that "there is no real reason to believe that other entities, whether public or private, are moving in any other direction."

Mr. Budkie said that the ultimate goal of his group is a total end to animal experimentation, but that the organization takes a "realistic" approach. He called the report, which he said took six months to a year to compile, "very, very accurate and thorough" and added that "the first thing we need to do is eliminate these totally unnecessary projects.  And, as we demonstrated, there are a lot of those out there."

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Don Ralbovsky, a spokesman for the NIH, refused to comment on the report.

Anthony Mazzaschi, associate vice president of research at the Association of American Medical Colleges, declined to comment on NIH research specifically, but defended duplicative research on the whole.  "Some research does need to be duplicated: one, to validate it, and two, to extend the research results," he said, adding that allegations of animal abuse or bureaucratic glut is "really a gray area" and that "obviously, the animal-rights group has an agenda, and they parrot this out every once in a while."
 

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