Animal Research Issues
SfN engages in advocacy efforts around several issues in animals in research.
Animal welfare is the desire to implement humane care and use standards for animals in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition.
The complex set of U.S. laws and subsequent amendments promoting the welfare of laboratory animals is intended to promote public confidence in U.S. research facilities.
While the various regulatory, funding and accrediting agencies have established regulations and requirements designed to assure the welfare of animals used in biomedical research, teaching and testing, the day-to-day assurance comes from the oversight of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and the program of veterinary care that must be in place at each research institution.
For more information on laws and regulations, visit the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) animal law site.
Lab Animal Transport
Animal transportation ensures that laboratory animals are available for lifesaving biomedical research. Universities, medical and veterinary schools, and research centers are all dependent on air, ground, and ferry transportation to continue their groundbreaking research. A small but vocal group of “animal rights” extremists have been pushing transportation companies to stop transporting laboratory animals in their attempts to halt all research which involves animal models, and have been successful in some cases. For example, all North American airlines and all but one European airline have stopped transporting non-human primates for research purposes. The Society urges transportation companies to allow the transport of all laboratory animals, including non-human primates.
Legislation to prohibit the use of great apes (including chimpanzees) as a research model has been introduced into Congress sporadically for almost a decade. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was recategorizing captive chimpanzees as an endangered species subject to legal protections, thus barring most invasive research on chimpanzees. Exceptions will be granted for work that would “benefit the species in the wild” or aid the chimpanzee's propagation or survival, including work to improve chimp habitat and the management of wild populations. In light of this change, NIH Director Francis Collins announced in late 2015 that NIH will end its research program on chimpanzees. Only a small population of laboratory chimps (that were then sent to sanctuaries) remained at that point, as NIH had steadily backed away from the use of chimps for medical research over the past few years.