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Feds spend up to $14.5 billion annually on animal testing

Would you be surprised to learn that the biggest funder of animal testing in the country is the federal government?

The government spends as much as $14.5 billion per year on animal experimentation, with some projects siphoning off taxpayer dollars for decades and resulting in the cruel treatment of an unknown number of animals.

According to an analysis of government data, the National Institutes of Health spends between $12 billion and nearly $14.5 billion on animal testing every year. According to NIH documents, about 47 percent of research grants have an animal research-based component. This number has been fairly stable over the last decade.

“$14.5 billion could provide a lot of tax relief for Americans. It could help pay down national debt or help prevent a shutdown,” says Anthony Bellotti, founder and executive director of the watchdog group, White Coat Waste Project. “Instead, it’s paying for experiments in which small dogs are forced to run on treadmills until they have heart attacks at schools like Wayne State University, and to study the effects of crystal meth on monkeys at UCLA. How can we justify government waste like this?”

The controversial nature of government-backed animal testing has actually created an unlikely coalition of fiscal conservatives and animals rights activists who usually don’t share common ground. Both sides argue that NIH funding for animal testing should be cut.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged House Speaker John Boehner to “expand the planned 7.8 percent cuts to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) budget by cutting all funding for studies involving animals.”

PETA also argues that NIH grants go towards experiments that “involve cruel and expensive experiments on animals that will not save human lives.”

In the name of science?

One professor at the Oregon Health and Science University got $9.5 million in grants in the last few years to test the effects of obesity and diabetes on monkeys. Researchers would fatten up pregnant monkeys to see if their offspring to test for health problems and anxiety problems, like if the baby monkeys were afraid of a Mr. Potato Head doll. PETA noted that the baby monkeys were also taken out of the womb, killed and had their brains dissected.