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California representatives want more information on government animal testing

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Federal agencies don’t do enough to track and justify their use of live animals for research, several members of Congress wrote in a letter asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office to examine the issue.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) led the letter, which also was backed by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey), Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and eight other House members.

“We have discovered it is impossible to determine what federal animal research programs currently entail, what they cost and if they meet federal standards because of the limited and decentralized information available publicly. Federal agencies are not currently required to publicly report their total use of animals in research, do not publish noncompliance reports and generally do not maintain searchable databases of animal research projects with information about their purpose, methods, results, and cost,” the letter says.

Calvert said without the reporting, it is difficult for Congress to tell whether the research is effective and where there may be redundancies.

“I’m not opposed to the rare testing of animals when it’s absolutely necessary,” Calvert said. But, “most people in America who are asked would say, ‘No, let’s not harm animals unnecessarily if there are other methods.’ ”

The representatives also are asking the government oversight agency to look at which federal agencies conduct animal research and testing and how each agency informs Congress and the public about the costs, type of research and outcomes of the testing. They also want the office to look at how agencies report problems with testing and report their efforts to develop alternatives to animal testing.

In addition, representatives are asking for data on how much money each agency spent on animal testing and how many animals were used in testing in fiscal year 2016.

“One, I like animals, but two, I don’t like waste,” Calvert said. “In the end, this is going to save a lot of money, and obviously it’s going to increase the welfare for many [animals].”

California’s members of Congress made a similar appeal earlier this year for information on the military’s use of animals for medical training instead of simulated human flesh.

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