Animal Legal Defense Fund: Animal Testing and the Law
Animal Welfare Act (AWA)
- A federal law that addresses the standard of care animals receive at research facilities. Yet it excludes roughly 95% of the animals tested upon (such as rats, mice, birds, fish, and reptiles) and provides only minimal protection for the rest. Labs are not required to report non-AWA protected animals.
- Much-needed update to the Toxic Substances Control Act from 1976. This new law requires that modern alternatives be considered and used in testing instead of animals, and it will also establish more reliable screening technologies than outdated animal tests. However, without banning animal testing outright, it still doesn’t do enough to put an end to the suffering.
Current Protective Agencies
Public Health Service (PHS) – The PHS oversees the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC conducts infectious disease research on nonhuman primates, rabbits, mice, and other animals, while FDA requirements mean exploitation of animals in pharmaceutical research. The PHS requires only written assurance of compliance through the Office of Laboratory Welfare (OLAW). When a facility is found deficient, OLAW takes little action, has no mandated follow-up, or on-site inspection.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – With only 120 inspectors, the USDA oversees more than 12,000 facilities involved in research, exhibition, breeding, or dealing of animals. Federally-owned facilities, like the Department of Defense, are not inspected by the USDA–which is the agency charged with enforcing the AWA through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Penalties for non-compliance are often virtually inconsequential in comparison to massive research revenues.
Other regulatory bodies charged with protecting animals, such as the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) and mandatory Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC), are self-chosen, self-policing bodies with little or no punitive power.
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