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
The Animal Experimentation Scandal:
In summary, it appears that the current system for grant approval has been constituted in such a way as to provide for the approval of almost any grant for an animal experimentation project, with few motivations for a project to be disapproved. The individuals involved in the approval process often have a vested interest in approving grants, with little or no incentive to disapprove grants.
The existing system has led to a steady climb (33,014 for 2002 projects in target species, a 59.7% increase for a ten-year period) in the number of animal experimentation projects funded by the NIH over the last ten years. A conservative estimate of the current annual expenditure for animal based experimentation as it is funded by the National Institutes of Health exceeds $9.9 billion.
26 nationally known laboratories receive more than $100 million annually for the performance of animal experimentation (see Appendix B for individual facility totals), 8 of these facilities receive over $150 million per year, and two have eclipsed the $200 million mark. The average annual funding amount per facility is $139,805,731. Since laboratories have a monetary interest in performing as much experimentation as possible, it is expected that without radical changes to the grant approval process these numbers will continue to increase.
Several specific areas of experimentation have been examined to study the issue of experimental duplication. 187 separate projects study neural information processing in macaque monkeys, with 130 of these studying visual neural information processing. Additionally, 445 NIH grants study cocaine in rats, mice or macaque monkeys potentially using more than $133 million annually. The NIH is also currently funding 657 animal studies on alcohol in rats, mice or macaque monkeys that consume an estimated $197,000,000 each year. These two areas of addiction research expend $384,600,000 annually. Should we consider re-directing this funding towards programs that directly benefit humans suffering from substance abuse?
Experimental duplication is evidently very high, leading to the waste of hundreds of millions in federal tax dollars, and the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of animals. The consumption of this funding in animal experiments may also prevent U.S. citizens from accessing the social programs that they need. How many people could be funded in substance abuse programs with the $330 million that is currently directed at animal experiments in addiction? How many of them will die for lack of treatment? What will the cost be to our society in health care, criminal justice, and other programs because these people weren’t treated? What is more important keeping multi-million dollar laboratories open, or keeping U.S. citizens alive?
It is time that we end the process of writing the research community a $10 billion blank check every year for the purpose of performing animal experimentation with little more than a vague hope that any real benefits will result. Every day the NIH spends over $27,000,000 on animal experiments. Shouldn’t we be examining this whole process much more closely?
A radical restructuring of the NIH grant approval system, and the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee system is necessary to prevent further waste of federal tax dollars and animal lives.
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