A bipartisan group of lawmakers want the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hand over information on animal testing at the agency’s North Carolina-based laboratory.
Six lawmakers — three Republicans and three Democrats — sent a letter to the EPA on Thursday, demanding information on the cost and extent of agency-run animal tests, including costs and how many animals are used.
Animal testing at EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) “likely costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year, and their relevance to humans, as EPA has often acknowledged, is dubious at best,” lawmakers led by Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz wrote to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“Details about many of these projects are scarce, thus, we are very interested in learning more about the EPA’s current in-house animal testing,” reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Lawmakers’ letter comes in the wake of a DCNF report that EPA’s animal testing facility used about 20,000 animals a year, including rodents, rabbits and fish. That estimate is based on figures reviewed by the group White Coat Waste Project, which opposes taxpayer funding for animal testing.
“EPA’s wasteful spending on misleading and bizarre animal testing is out of control,” Gaetz said in an emailed statement to TheDCNF.
The EPA published the results of at least 20 animal exposure studies in the past two years, many of which exposed lab rats to high concentrations of air pollutants the agency claims can be deadly to humans. (RELATED: The Battle To Repeal An Obama-Era Regulation On Trucks Heats Up)
“The American people’s tax dollars should not be spent on torturing animals: forcing them to eat lard, electro-shocking them, and pumping truck exhaust into their noses,” Gaetz said.
“This is horrific and inhumane. Cost-effective and cruelty-free alternatives to these tests exist, and I hope the EPA will prioritize these alternatives in the future,” he added.
Animal testing has brought about scientific and medical advances. For example, vaccines for polio and other diseases were developed with animal testing, according to the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.
However, critics have pointed out that testing air pollution is problematic, in particularly with rats. For example, researchers have to force air pollutants down the throats of rats since they can change their breathing patterns to keep particulates and other substances out.
The Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal calls for slashing NHEERL’s funding from $115 million to $71 million, and House lawmakers are pushing an EPA appropriations bill that targets animal testing at the agency.
EPA released a draft policy in March to promote alternative testing methods to reduce the use of animals in scientific studies as part of chemical safety legislation passed in 2016. Gaetz and White Coast Waste, however, want to go further and zero-out federal funding for animal testing.
“A supermajority of American taxpayers on both sides of the aisle oppose EPA’s expensive, irrelevant and outdated animal testing and we applaud Congressman Gaetz and his colleagues for their bipartisan action to reduce this waste and abuse and promote real science that protects taxpayers, animals, and the environment,” Justin Goodman, White Coast Waste’s vice president of advocacy and public policy, told TheDCNF.
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