United States Department of Agriculture Seeking Public Comments on Proposal for Expanded Collection and Reporting of Animals Used in Research

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National Anti-Vivisection Society Petition for Rulemaking aims to improve quality and quantity of available information regarding animal experiments.

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What we’re advocating for with this Petition is simplified access to meaningful data. Researchers are already collecting this basic information. All we’re asking is that it be included in licensee reports.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in the Federal Register that it is soliciting public comments on a formal Petition for Rulemaking filed by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS). The Petition asks that APHIS amend its requirements for record keeping and reporting on the use of animals by entities, including research facilities, which are licensed by the USDA under the Animal Welfare Act.

In its Petition, NAVS notes that APHIS’ current data collection and reporting methods lack the scope and detail found in the system used in the European Union. The EU system, the Petition states, “provides an accurate and transparent accounting of how many, what type of animals, and for what specific research, testing and educational purposes the animals are being used.” The current APHIS system, in contrast, provides no information pertaining to the specific purposes for which the animals are used in the United States.

Such a deficiency, NAVS observes, hinders progress toward the implementation of what are commonly referred to as the “3Rs”—reduction, refinement and replacement—of animal use.

“More accurate information regarding the specific ways in which animals are currently being used is the key to effective implementation of the ‘3Rs,’” says NAVS’ Executive Director Peggy Cunniff. “The additional data that NAVS is asking APHIS to request of USDA licensees will be essential not only in measuring progress toward reducing and replacing the use of animals, but also in identifying priorities for future funding.”

APHIS is now soliciting comments from the public to ascertain whether they should move forward with amending their regulations and specifically what information, if any, is lacking in current reporting requirements. After reviewing comments, the agency could choose to move forward with changes to its data collection on animal use by research laboratories and other licensed institutions.

NAVS’ Petition notes that APHIS’ current system can lead to “confusion and misinformation” about animal use, as without accurate data regarding how animals are being used, benign procedures—such as nail clipping, teeth and ear cleaning, and spaying and neutering of shelter dogs in preparation for adoption—are lumped in with harmful experiments such as toxicology testing.

“What we’re advocating for with this Petition is simplified access to meaningful data,” notes NAVS’ Director of Legal and Legislative Programs Marcia Kramer. “Researchers are already collecting this basic information. All we’re asking is that it be included in licensee reports, and, to assist with this, we are proposing a simplified method of reporting all required information.”

Federal guidelines require APHIS to release information pertaining to the number of animals being used for research, testing and teaching by USDA licensees. In 2014, primarily as a result of NAVS’ efforts, APHIS resumed publication of its online Annual Report detailing this information.

The Petition for Rulemaking, ID No. APHIS-2015-0033-0001, will be open for public comments on the Federal eRulemaking Portal through August 24, 2015.

Founded in 1929, the National Anti-Vivisection Society is dedicated to ending cruel, wasteful and scientifically-flawed animal experiments through the advancement of smarter, human-relevant research and the promotion of animal-friendly changes to laws and policies. For more information, visit http://www.navs.org or call 1-800-888-NAVS (6287).

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Garett Auriemma
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