Proposal to relax rules puts animal welfare at risk

Deadline to submit comments is June 12!

The 21st Century Cures Act directs NIH to find ways to reduce the so-called “regulatory administrative burden” for those who conduct animal experiments, “while” maintaining animal welfare and research integrity. Animal research lobbyists are using this as an opening to reduce oversight and transparency meant to assure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. This would jeopardize the welfare of tens of thousands of animals at research facilities across the country.

Protecting animal welfare should never be considered a burden. It’s the right thing to do!

Yet, pro-animal research industry groups are calling for fewer inspections, more self-policing, and weakened requirements for considering alternatives that can replace the use of animals in experiments, which has been one of the most cited problems in USDA inspections.

The best way for labs to avoid problems with animal welfare oversight is to increase their use of alternative methods. More attention should be paid by federal agencies to further the development of alternatives and non-animal methods of investigation.

As NIH works to harmonize regulations and policies associated with animal research oversight, it must make the welfare of animals a top priority. Tell NIH that as it considers streamlining regulatory requirements, it must also ensure that AWA standards are strengthened, not weakened, and animal welfare is not compromised.

What you can do

NIH is only accepting comments submitted through its website. Please follow the directions below and feel free to copy and paste the sample comments. NOTE: We feel it’s more important for the public to provide input on the ‘Comment A’ boxes. ’Comment B’ boxes request more technical remarks, and AAVS will be sure to address those in our expanded comments.

Deadline to submit comments is June 12!

  • Go to NIH website.

    Once there, you will be asked to give your name and contact information. Below the comment boxes, you will find the text: “To ensure the integrity of your response….” Type the number in the box, and then scroll down and click “Submit.” You’re done. Thanks for taking action!

  • Comment A boxes

    Below are sample comments we feel are most pertinent for public response. You may copy and paste this text into the appropriate boxes and/or add your concerns for greatest impact.

    1. Oversight of ALL animal experiments should be ongoing.
    2. There should be no reduction in the type of information collected and, in fact, reporting should include vertebrate animals and be made publicly available.
    3. Consideration of alternatives to painful and distressful procedures is extremely important to animal welfare. Any harmonization should default to the highest level of standards, including documentation of requirements. Because OLAW guidelines cover all vertebrate species, researchers using mice and rats, the most commonly used animals in research, should also be required to conduct a search for alternatives that could replace and reduce their use in painful and distressful procedures.
    4. OLAW should not be considering new polices that weaken animal welfare oversight. Public comment periods are appropriate for new polices to improve animal welfare.
    5. The 21st Century Cures Act does not instruct NIH to reduce the so-called “regulatory administrative burden” if it will negatively affect animal welfare. NIH should ensure the highest standards for animal welfare and encourage the use of non-animal methods and the development of alternatives that can replace animals in biomedical research.