Protesters brave windy conditions to protest Laura Friedman’s bill about animal research

About a dozen protesters stood outside the district office of Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) in Burbank on Wednesday voicing their disapproval of a bill she introduced they say could make it more difficult to get information about animal research conducted by colleges and universities.

Although strong wind gusts made it difficult for them to hold their signs, the group of animal-rights activists — who also pointed out they are taxpayers — braved the strong wind conditions to let the public know about AB 700.

Cory Mac, a member of a grassroots group called Progress for Science, said Friedman’s bill, if passed, would make it more difficult for people to access public records that involve research about animals at post-secondary educational institutions.

“This bill would put heavy restrictions on what we can ask for,” Mac said. “This bill would restrict disclosure of researchers’ names, researchers’ addresses, etc.”

Additionally, Mac said, as a taxpayer, she and others should know if their money is being used for animal-research projects.

“When you use taxpayer money on animal research, you’re taking money away from clinical studies,” Mac said. “There’s a lot of [animal] research that gets through that should never happen, and one of the safeguards against that is using public-record requests.”

The Assembly bill was introduced by Friedman in February and aims to protect researchers at public universities and colleges in the state from having their work interrupted by corporate interests, Friedman said in a statement on Friday.

“It was never intended to obscure animal research, and I am currently working with animal welfare advocates on amendments to make that clear,” Friedman said, adding that she was in Sacramento on Wednesday. “At the end of the day, we’re on the same side. We all want to preserve transparency, and we also want reasonable standards that protect our public universities from attacks by well-funded corporate interests seeking to undermine research that benefits the environment, public health and the economy.”

John Hays was also one of the protesters in front of Friedman’s office on Wednesday. His said he thinks the Assemblywoman’s bill is “the latest in a series of similar measures that suppress anyone who’s trying to speak on behalf of abuse and exploited animals.”

Hays said bills like this get in the way of people who are trying to learn the truth about something. In this case, it’s about knowing what is being done to animals in research labs.

“Whenever these things are being hidden by any entity — government, commercial interests or whomever — there’s usually something there that they are worried about, scared about or maybe secretly ashamed of,” Hays said. “It’s up for us to expose it and put it out into the open.”

Twitter: @acocarpio