The Hill

Animals Used For Experimentation By FDA Are Now Up For Adoption

Before the month of February ends, a batch of 26 squirrel monkeys who were part of a nicotine study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be set free outdoors. For now, the monkeys are under watch in an indoor facility in Florida to slowly ease them into living in natural surroundings since they probably never even seen the outside world till date. 

This initiative to free lab animals used for medical experiments is part of the policy change that was officially enforced by the agency in November of 2019. It has only recently become public since it was not disclosed by the agency last year. Animals were euthanized once their purpose was served in the experiments, The Hill reported. 

Now, according to the new policy, healthy animals can be adopted, moved and handed over to animal shelters and nature reserves after the experiments are concluded. According to the FDA’s annual fiscal data of 2018, 1,929 animals were experimented on by following the guidelines enshrined by the Animal Welfare Council. 

The council insists on reduction in the number of animals used in labs, developing safer experimental tools and finding replacements for animals in the studies. Despite adopting these measures, of all the animals used, 27 percent reported pain and torment.

In March 2019, Congressman Brendan Boyle introduced the Animal Freedom from Testing, Experimentation and Research (AFTER) Act. Soon by April last year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stopped cruel practices against kittens used in experiments. 

“The dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys and other animals confined in government laboratories belong to taxpayers, and over 1 million WCW advocates have told Congress that they want these animals back,” Noelle Callahan, public policy manager at the taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste (WCW) project, said, as quoted in a news release in 2019.

The group wants to put an end to experiments conducted with taxpayers money on animals. “We applaud Reps. Boyle and Walorski’s outstanding leadership for introducing the AFTER Act to give animals an opportunity to find homes with taxpayers when government experiments end,” Callahan added. 

The animals can thrive despite being victims of trauma if they are adopted by families and sanctuaries that have the patience to help them readjust to the world outside, Justin Goodman, vice president of WCW, believed. 

The group’s effort has borne fruit before. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) have adopted this policy due to their relentless advocacy. Now, the FDA has joined the list of agencies being more kind to animals. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture are some of the goverment organizations that are yet to follow this policy on animal testing. 

Proponents of the animal trials believe it is necessary to conduct safety tests before medication can be prescribed for humans. In reality, the bodies of animals and human beings react to drugs differently. 

About  90 percent of studies conducted on people after medication was demonstrably safe in animals but were found to be unsafe for human consumption, according to a study published in 2014 in the journal of Nature Biotechnology. When it comes to cancer treatment, below 8 percent of the study results were transferable to human beings.  

Researchers at the Canadian Center for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM) are in the process of developing technology to identify risks of medication on humans. Rather than using animals, the researchers are focused on finding alternatives. 

Vervet Monkeys According to the FDA's new policy, most animals used in their experiments will be rehabilitated and eventually adopted by families or sanctuaries. Creative Commons