October 25, 2005

Pending animal measure threatens U.S. research

A measure designed to restrict colleges, universities and research institutions from purchasing laboratory animals from some suppliers could have a "very serious" impact on health and agricultural research and on the U.S. economy, AAAS said Tuesday in a letter to Congress.

AAAS has long advocated responsible use of animals for medical and other research. The letter, sent to 28 members of a House-Senate conference committee and signed by AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, urges that the measure be stricken from the pending FY 2006 Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

Under the proposed spending proviso, funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could no longer go to colleges, universities and other research institutions that lawfully purchase research animals from Class B dealers. Such dealers obtain or purchase animals, sometimes from pounds, and resell them to research labs.

In his letter, Leshner warns that such restrictions could bar USDA and FDA funding for entire institutions involved in cutting-edge research, even research unrelated to animals.

Should the measure become law, "the unintended consequences are very serious," he added. "Not only would research that benefits both human health and the U.S. economy be disrupted, but many of our nation's outstanding agriculture schools, located at state colleges and land grant universities, would be deprived of USDA funding used for research, education, and extension services in many other fields (e.g., crop science, nutrition, invasive species)."

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