DxE Activists Charged with Multiple Felonies

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) has been in the news lately for their self-publicized break-ins and thefts of animals in what they deem “rescues.” DxE co-founder Wayne Hsiung and five other activists are facing felony charges in Sanpete County, UT for theft from a turkey farm in January of 2017. It is also being reported that five DxE activists, including Hsiung, are facing new felony charges in Beaver County, UT for the July 2017 theft of pigs from Circle Four Farms, owned by Smithfield Farms. All five activists are being charged with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, two counts of burglary committed against an animal enterprise, and theft of livestock. It was DxE’s own video, profiled by the New York Times, that is now serving as evidence in the theft.

The group brazenly claims to have engaged in several such thefts documented here: https://www.directactioneverywhere.com/open-rescue/#past-rescues.  DxE is using these thefts to push for what they call “Julie’s Law” at the municipal level, a proposal aimed at giving animals legal standing in local courts by granting rights currently reserved for humans.

DxE supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban all animal research and animal agriculture. Hsiung expressly wrote of the hypothetical future he envisions: “The year is 2060. Four years ago, a constitutional amendment was passed enshrining animal rights in the US Constitution. And today, we are shutting down the last slaughterhouse on Earth.” DxE provides more detail in “The Roadmap to Animal Liberation.”

Concern Grows Over New ‘Pig Virus’ Threat to Public Health

A newly identified pig virus is giving researchers cause for concern after they discovered it can transfer to lab-cultured cells of people and other animal species.

The virus, porcine deltacoronavirus, was first discovered in China in 2012 and detected in U.S. pigs in 2014. No human cases have been documented so far, though researchers are concerned about the virus’ ability to transfer to humans and cause life-threatening issues. Further research will be necessary to discover exactly how transferable the virus is and how susceptible other animals may be.

This case acutely underscores the necessity for animal research in the preservation of both human and animal life.

Farm Bill Amendment for Regulatory Relief Filed in U.S. House

Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) has filed an amendment to H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill, to address the need to provide regulatory relief for the nation’s animal researchers. The proposed change, as drafted by Rep. Rouzer, replaces the yearly mandate for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections at animal research facilities with “every three years.” As a draft amendment, it must clear the House Rules Committee. The Senate, which has yet to hammer out their own version of the Farm Bill, has not indicated whether a similar provision will be included. It is important to clarify that this amendment in no way ends USDA's inspections.

NABR strongly supports this move towards regulatory relief for the biomedical research community and improved flexibility for the USDA to focus efforts on bad actors. The National Science Board (NSB) has reported that researchers spend as much as 42% of their time responding to regulatory and administrative burdens. Numerous reports, including the October 2010 report by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), and the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) have made recommendations for reducing regulatory burdens in biomedical research. Additionally, the 21st Century Cures Act signed into law, signed into law on December 13, 2016, mandates that federal agencies work to reduce regulatory burden on the animal research community.

 

VCU Researcher Reminds the Public Why Animal Research is Necessary

"We gotta get people out of the hospital. It's why we do research." That’s what Dr. Bill Dewey, Chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, said in a Richmond news article about animal research aimed at curbing the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic.

Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the opioid epidemic kills 115 people per day in the U.S., and WRIC in Richmond, VA reports there are five ongoing studies at VCU funded by the NIH. In the piece questioning VCU’s research, Dr. Dewey explained that the purpose of VCU’s research with primates is to find pain relief without addiction, a much-needed medical objective.

When asked about the opposition of animal rights groups, he responded, "I disagree with that because I think it's like the story of giving a man a fish… Teaching him how to fish is better." To read and watch Dr. Dewey’s salient comments about the value of animal research studies, please click here.

President Signs Omnibus Bill

Earlier today, President Donald Trump signed the FY18 omnibus bill to keep the federal government open until September 30. President Trump had previously announced via Twitter earlier in the morning that he was considering vetoing the bill because of the border wall and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issues.

There were several animal provisions in the bill. The omnibus will include $30,810,000 (a $2 million increase from FY17) for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including continuing inspections of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) locations conducting research with farm animals.

The omnibus also addresses the USDA database issue by noting, “On February 3, 2017, USDA restricted the public's access to the search tool for the Animal Care Inspection System, saying it needed to conduct a comprehensive review of the information on its website. USDA is now posting heavily redacted inspection reports that make it difficult in certain cases for the public to understand the subject of the inspection, assess USDA's subsequent actions, and to evaluate the effectiveness of its enforcement. USDA's actions to date do not meet the requirements in H. Rpt. 115-232 that the online searchable database should allow analysis and comparison of data and include all inspection reports, annual reports, and other documents related to enforcement of animal welfare laws. USDA is directed to comply with these requirements and is reminded that as part of its oversight responsibilities, Congress has the right to make any inquiry it wishes into litigation in which USDA is involved. USDA is directed to respond to any such inquiries fully.”

Level funding of almost $21.5 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Computational Toxicology program was also included in the bill to develop effective alternatives, as required by the 2016 reauthorization of TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act. Rejecting a $212 million cut proposed by the President, the bill also increases funding of the National Institute (NIH) National Center for the Advancement of Translational Sciences (NCATS) by over $36 million.

The omnibus didn’t stop there. Aside from encouraging the expedited transfer of NIH’s retired chimpanzees and expansion of the federal sanctuary system, it also contained a prohibition on funding for Class B licenses by the USDA, which has been included several times before. It also prohibits the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from using funding for “research using canines unless: the scientific objectives of the study can only be met by research with canines; the study has been directly approved by the Secretary; and the study is consistent with the revised Department of Veterans Affairs canine research policy document released on December 18, 2017.” Also, it requires the VA Secretary to submit to both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees a “detailed report outlining under what circumstances canine research may be needed if there are no other alternatives, how often it was used during that time period, and what protocols are in place to determine both the safety and efficacy of the research.”

To read the full 2,232 page FY18 omnibus, please click here.

NBC News Spotlights Canine Cancer Research

In case you missed it, a segment on Saturday's NBC Nightly News broadcast with Lester Holt was dedicated to exploring some promising cancer research involving dogs.

As explained by NBC News Medical Correspondent Dr. John Torres, 20 major medical centers are conducting clinical trials for drugs that could potentially cure cancer in dogs. "Humans and dogs are 95% identical genetically—and the diseases that affect humans, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma, are almost identical."

Click here to learn why so many researchers are turning to man's best friend for new cancer treatments that could benefit humans and companion animals alike. The segment perfectly exemplifies the Foundation for Biomedical Research's (FBR) outreach campaign: "Love Animals? Support Animal Research."

HSUS CEO Resigns Amid Harassment Allegations

On Friday, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) resigned amid numerous claims of inappropriate behavior. Pacelle’s resignation comes after HSUS’s board voted to keep the CEO, prompting seven board members to issue their resignations. Kitty Block has been named interim chief executive.

HSUS, one of the largest animal rights organizations in the country, has historically been a staunch challenger to animal research and even has a section of its website devoted to the “troubling issue of animal research.”

To read POLITICO’s coverage of the claims of harassment at HSUS, please click here.

New NIH Working Group to Develop Guidelines for Chimpanzee Retirement

What to do with nearly 300 retired research chimpanzees has remained a question for quite some time. Currently in three medical research centers, the animals have been awaiting transfer to the only federal retirement sanctuary: Chimp Haven.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to organize a working group for developing recommendations for veterinarians to consider when or if to transfer chimpanzees. This comes after a number of deaths of former research chimps shortly after arriving at the sanctuary. The unavoidable stress of moving the animals, many of which are elderly and sick, has raised concerns leading many to question whether moving the animals at all is a wise endeavor.

“Retirement in place” at the medical research centers, in the animals’ existing social groupings, has been suggested as a preferable alternative. The NIH’s formation of a working group could signal a reevaluation of the subject of research chimpanzee retirement.

Nature covered this story early in the week, which can be read in its entirely here.

CNN Features NABR, FBR President in Coverage of FDA Nicotine Research

This morning, Matt Bailey, NABR and Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) president, expressed concerns in an article by CNN covering the recent decision by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to end nicotine studies with primates.

Countering claims by Justin Goodman, Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy of the animal rights organization the White Coat Waste Project (WCW), that such research is a misuse of federal tax dollars, Bailey said, “Research into the effects of nicotine is indeed a public health issue, especially given the rise in popularity of vaping devices among teenagers.” Adding, "My understanding is that the research project in question aimed to determine whether there is or is not a safe level of nicotine absorption by young people." "That's an important question," said Bailey.

Bailey also addressed concerns regarding additional regulatory burden, saying any efforts to augment animal care must be done without impeding the speed of finding breakthroughs. "Additional oversight efforts need to be balanced by efforts to reduce the significant amount of regulatory burden felt daily by research scientists in the US."

"Animals played a role in the development of each of the top 25 most prescribed drugs in America," Bailey said. Adding that our pets, farm animals and wildlife also benefit from medical treatments developed in part from animal research, he noted, "Farm animals and wildlife are routinely vaccinated against any number of diseases, but those vaccines wouldn't be available without animal research. So if you love animals, you really should support animal research."

"Undoubtedly, some will argue that this recent action by the FDA is a reason to end research with animal models. But given the inextricable role humane and responsible animal research plays in the health of the overall population, and the health of the animals about which we care so deeply, that is a very dangerous proposition," he said.

Please click here to read Bailey’s interview by CNN

Time is Running Out to Register for NABR’s Next Webinar!

Time is running out to sign up for NABR's next webinar! If you would like to attend and have not yet reserved your spot for “The 2017 USDA Inspection Data: Celebrating a New Milestone in Compliance?”, scheduled for next Tuesday Feb. 6 at 12:30 p.m. (EST), please do so immediately.

NABR collects information from the USDA’s Animal Care Inspection System database each year to review the inspection results for the previous fiscal year. Our efforts this year were complicated by a lack of access to the searchable database which could be used to download data into spreadsheets for what would have been a relatively straightforward analysis of the actual inspection data. The new Public Search Tool provides data efficiently, but the data is difficult to analyze. Fortunately, with our analysis, we will provide you with valuable insight into the inspection process.

Join NABR next week on Tuesday, Feb. 6 as we look at FY2017 data and compare it to analyses from previous years. Our findings will demonstrate how the research community continues to improve compliance with the letter and spirit of the regulations. This information will help you manage your own animal care and use program in the coming fiscal year. As always, registration is complimentary for dues-paying NABR members and subscribers. Nonmembers are welcome to attend, but a fee will be applied