Physicians Committee Statement: USDA Budges on Animal Welfare Database, But Not Enough

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE February 17, 2017
Physicians Committee Statement: USDA Budges on Animal Welfare Database, But Not Enough
From Ryan Merkley, Associate Director of Research Policy

Earlier this week, the Physicians Committee and a coalition of other organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to restore the agency's online animal welfare database. Today, USDA announced that it would post a small number of documents online. However, the agency needs to restore the entire database—and we won't stop working until it does.

USDA stated today that "the first batch of annual reports of research institutions and inspection reports for certain Federal research facilities that the Agency regulates under the Animal Welfare Act" would be posted online. But these records are only the tip of the iceberg.

The Feb. 3 shuttering of the Animal Care Information System, without warning, has made it harder to find out how animals are used in laboratories and whether those facilities are complying with federal law.

While we are taking action in federal court, members of Congress are speaking out, too. Last week, we asked you to contact your members of Congress, and many of them heard you.

A letter to USDA led by Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey was signed by 17 other senators. The letter states: "The public has a right to know if regulated entities have subjected animals in their care to abuse or otherwise failed to meet basic animal welfare standards."

In a separate letter sent to President Trump, Arizona Republican Martha McSally and 100 other members of the House of Representatives urged the restoration of the animal welfare database, stating: “We should be increasing government transparency, not diminishing it..."

We are making progress, but there is still much work to do!

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.