American Anti-Vivisection Society and Alternatives Research & Development Foundation on Numbers of Rats and Mice Used in U.S. Laboratories
Call for Animal Welfare Act to be Amended
January 12, 2021
JENKINTOWN, PA—A study published today on Nature.com estimates that over 110 million rats and mice have been used annually in the U.S. for science. This is a far higher number than previously thought, including by our organizations, which have extrapolated numbers based on European patterns of use. The article, “Estimating mouse and rat use in American laboratories by extrapolation from Animal Welfare Act-regulated species” by Larry Carbone, DVM, affiliated with the University of California San Francisco, underscores the urgent need for the use of all animals in research and testing to be regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
As a longtime lab animal vet, Carbone makes the key point that rats and mice are sentient animals, but there are “challenges [to] identifying and treating rodent pain.” Despite that, his figures suggest that over 44 million rats and mice are used in “painful and distressful experiments.” This is a disturbingly high number for anyone concerned about animal welfare, particularly considering the extreme pain that may occur in experiments. Since these rats and mice were excluded from the Animal Welfare Act in 2002, the research institutions in the study are not required to consider alternatives to procedures that cause pain and distress, as required by the law.
AAVS affiliate, the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation, as a consequence of a lawsuit, entered into an agreement in 2000 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which enforces the AWA, to extend coverage to mice, rats, and birds, prior to the change in the law. At the time, there was widespread recognition from the science community that this made sense, considering the ubiquitous use of these animals in research. Nevertheless, lobby groups representing research institutions used their influence in Congress to prevent the USDA from acting, and ultimately, had the law changed to head off any regulation.
ARDF and AAVS President Sue Leary commented, “We now call upon the scientific community to work with our organizations and other animal protection proponents to amend the AWA, and bring it up to the standards of all other Western countries. Such work is consistent with the accepted ‘3Rs’ principles (replace, reduce, refine animal use in experiments); with basic transparency and accountability to the public, which funds most academic research; and with science itself, which embraces the value of data to inform policy.”
The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) was founded in 1883 and is the oldest non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to ending the use of animals in research, testing, and education. AAVS also opposes and works to end other forms of cruelty to animals. AAVS engages constructively with a broad range of constituencies to achieve meaningful, lasting change, through education, advocacy, and the development of alternative, non-animal methods.
www.aavs.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alternatives Research & Development Foundation’s mission is to fund and promote the development, validation, and adoption of non-animal methods in biomedical research, product testing, and education. ARDF has awarded over $3.75 million in grants to researchers developing alternative test methods at major universities across the U.S., and sponsors scientific meetings such as the World Congresses on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences.
www.ardf-online.org | email@example.com