Nuclear Technology Enters Stone Age

ASEE Prism, December 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

Nuclear Technology Enters Stone Age


briefings

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture and animal rights activists reached an out-of-court agreement in October to amend the Animal Welfare Act, the matter is far from settled. Or so say groups representing biomedical researchers who claim the USDA caved in to protesters without bringing researchers into the negotiations.

"It's outrageous that the USDA was more concerned in responding to the activist community than to the research community ... the research community was not allowed to come to the table," charges Frankie Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research. The amendment would stretch the law to cover the use of birds, rats, and mice in laboratories. Activist groups sued the agency two years ago to amend the act, which is the only federal law dealing with research animals.

Agriculture officials opted for negotiations after a federal judge ruled in June that it didn't have jurisdiction to exclude the animals from the law Groups like the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and the Association of Medical Colleges had urged the USDA to end the negotiations and fight on in courtclaiming that the amendment creates unnecessary and expensive paperwork that won't give the animals further protection and will cost researchers millions of dollars.

The NABR estimates that the cost could be between $80 million and $280 million. Trull says other regulations in place already give these animals protection. "It will be a regulatory burden-extra paperwork-that won't affect their treatment. …

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