There are disturbing gaps in oversight at overseas labs that use animals in experiments. Labs to which the National Institutes of Health has given $2.2 billion in contracts and grants from 2011 to 2021, according to a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The report found that while the NIH requires these foreign labs to file annual reports attesting to their compliance with U.S. animal testing guidelines, it “doesn't verify the reliability of the information in these reports.”
When they receive U.S. funding, labs must meet U.S. and international standards for humane and ethical experimentation on animals, and comply with all local regulations. The GAO found that while the NIH has the capacity and resources to identify and investigate risks before and while the money is awarded, “because the award recipients self-generate the information in the annual reports, there are risks that any animal welfare issues may be misrepresented.”
The GAO makes the obvious recommendation that the NIH should take steps “such as conducting site visits or requiring third-party verification” to mitigate the risk of misrepresentation. Requiring third-party verification would cost the U.S. nothing, and could make a big difference in ensuring all labs receiving funds are following the proper guidelines.
With an annual budget of $45 billion, it is unacceptable that the NIH can’t be bothered with basic oversight to ensure taxpayer money isn’t funding inhumane animal testing.
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