Wyden Demands Investigation into Alleged Government Mistreatment of Research Animals
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called for an investigation into the possible mistreatment of animals over several decades at a U.S. Department of Agriculture research facility, in a letter today.
Wyden sent the letter to the USDA following a recent report in the New York Times alleging the dangerous and inhumane treatment of animals at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. The report described surgical and breeding practices that caused pain and premature deaths in cows, pigs and lambs at the research facility.
The letter, also signed by Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and seven other senators, calls on the USDA to report its investigatory findings to Congress and review, enhance and enforce animal use and care protocols and standards.
“It is illogical even by Washington standards that the USDA meticulously oversees conditions at slaughterhouses and private labs, but does not carefully monitor the Center’s practices, or even comply with its own rules requiring strict oversight of experiments,” Wyden said. “I am going to be pushing the USDA to use this opportunity to review and revise its research standards to better align with those at other agricultural facilities.”
The USDA manages the facility and is responsible for overseeing animal welfare at private labs and slaughterhouses. However, because farm animals used in agricultural research were exempted from protections under the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, the research facility has not been subjected to the same level of federal oversight as other facilities.
Senators Al Franken, D-Minn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Bob Casey, D- Penn., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., also signed the letter.
“Public investment in agricultural research has, and will continue to, yield broad benefits for American farmers, ranchers, and consumers. At the same time, this research must be conducted in a way that is consistent with the values of Americans who overwhelmingly support humane treatment for farm animals throughout our food system,” the senators wrote in the letter.
Read the letter here.
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