Florida Congressmen Bring Back the Humane Research and Testing Act

This week, two members of the Florida congressional delegation–Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and Democrat U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings–brought back a proposal to reduce testing on animals.

Back in October, Hastings introduced the “Humane Research and Testing Act” with Buchanan as a co-sponsor. While they did get not their bill over the finish line last time out, they brought it back this week.

According to Hastings’ office, the bill will “establish the National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing (Center) under the National Institutes of Health (NIH)” which “will be dedicated to increasing transparency and understanding regarding the use of animals in medical research and testing to ultimately reduce the number of animals utilized in such practices” and “allow the NIH to develop, fund, and execute a plan to record an accurate account of animals used in testing and research and to incentivize the use of non-animal methods by educating and training scientists to utilize alternative ‘human relevant’ methods.”

“Two-thirds of Americans are concerned about the treatment of animals used in medical research according to Gallup polling. Sadly, we don’t know exactly how many animals are used in federally funded research and testing each year. However, several research methods have been developed that are able to reduce the demand for animal testing,” said Hastings on Wednesday. “I am pleased to introduce the Humane Research and Testing Act of 2021, alongside my good friend Congressman Vern Buchanan, which will promote the use of these human-relevant alternative testing methods, minimize the needless suffering of animals, and require a full accounting of the number of animals used in federally funded research.

“I’m excited to work with my Florida delegation co-chair Rep. Alcee Hastings to introduce this important legislation,” said Buchanan. “We need to create better, quicker and less expensive treatments for people that don’t rely on inhumane testing procedures. Establishing a National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing will help advance these goals while also avoiding subjecting animals to cruel and unnecessary experiments.

Back in October, Dr. Jane Goodall announced her support of the bill.

“Much animal research takes place because scientists don’t have the knowledge or support to pursue other methods. The new NIH center proposed by Representatives Hastings and Buchanan would overhaul the current paradigm of widespread, repetitive, and unnecessary animal experiments in a way that nothing has before,” said Goodall, the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN messenger of peace.

The bill also has the support of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research (CAARE) and Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc.

“While minimizing the use of animals in research is a fundamental part of NIH policy, we continue to see enormous numbers of animals used. The U.S. is one of the largest users of animals in laboratories worldwide,” said Barbara Stagno, the president and executive director of CAARE. “The Humane Research and Testing Act will provide the means and support to help NIH fulfill its obligation to replace animals with innovative technology and reduce numbers used, as mandated by the NIH Revitalization Act.”

“In addition to supporting research to innovate new preclinical models that more effectively emulate human physiology and disease states, a National Center for Alternatives to Animal Research and Testing would help to educate the scientific community about in vitro alternatives, and thus reduce often unnecessary demands for additional animal testing by reviewers of manuscripts and grants” said Dr. Donald Ingber, a professor at Harvard’s Medical and Engineering Schools and the founding director of its Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Back in June, the Humane Society of the United States named Buchanan as its “Legislator of the Year.” Buchanan won the honor for his record in 2015, making him the first member of the House to win the award twice.

Earlier in June, Buchanan and Hastings continued their efforts to warn about live animal markets and events in China, including the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. They wrote then President Donald Trump on the matter last week, following up on a letter they sent him back in April. They called on Trump to call for China to ban live animal markets. Back in November, the two congressmen teamed up with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., to introduce a resolution “calling on all nations to end their dog and cat meat trade and to enforce existing laws against the trade.”

In 2016, Buchanan brought out the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act which bans exporting horses to Mexican slaughterhouses. Buchanan has also led the charge on Capitol Hill to stop domestic slaughterhouses from creating horse meat for human consumption. Back in December 2018, Trump signed a proposal from Buchanan and Hastings banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption as part of the Farm Bill. Last year, Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., brought out the “Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act.” Buchanan is one of the leaders of the Animal Rights Caucus.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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