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Hastings, Buchanan Revive Bipartisan Quest to End Animal Testing

March 12, 2021 by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON – Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., are reviving their quest to establish a National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing and ultimately curtailing the use of animals in federally funded research. 

Their bill, the Humane Research and Testing Act, would establish a national center under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health the main purpose of which would be to decrease the use of animals in medical research and encourage the proliferation of alternative methods of research. 

The center will also be tasked with doing the first-ever count of all the animals currently being used in federally funded research. 

In addition, scientists receiving federal funding and government agencies that use animals in research will be required to submit regular reports to the National Center that state the number of animals used in their research projects, disaggregated by species, and will also be required to outline a plan for reducing the number of animals they use. 

Joining Hastings and Buchanan as original co-sponsors of the bill are Reps. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif. 

A recent Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of Americans are concerned about the treatment of animals used in medical research. 

“Sadly,” said Hastings, “we don’t know exactly how many animals are used in federally funded research and testing each year.  

“However, several research methods have been developed that are able to reduce the demand for animal testing,” he said, adding, “I am pleased to introduce the Humane Research and Testing Act of 2021, alongside my good friend Congressman Vern Buchanan, which will promote the use of these human-relevant alternative testing methods, minimize the needless suffering of animals, and require a full accounting of the number of animals used in federally funded research.” 

Buchanan said, “We need to create better, quicker and less expensive treatments for people that don’t rely on inhumane testing procedures. Establishing a National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing will help advance these goals while also avoiding subjecting animals to cruel and unnecessary experiments.” 

Barbara Stagno, president and executive director of the nonprofit Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research, said while minimizing the use of animals in research is a fundamental part of NIH policy, an enormous number of animals continue to used in research.  

“The U.S. is one of the largest users of animals in laboratories worldwide,” she said. “The Humane Research and Testing Act will provide the means and support to help NIH fulfill its obligation to replace animals with innovative technology and reduce numbers used, as mandated by the NIH Revitalization Act.” 

Donald Ingber, MD, PhD, founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, said, that in addition to supporting research models that more effectively emulate human physiology and disease states, a National Center for Alternatives to Animal Research and Testing would help to educate the scientific community about in vitro alternatives, and thus reduce often unnecessary demands for additional animal testing by reviewers of manuscripts and grants.

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