News Flash

USDA Agrees To Regulate Birds, Rats & Mice Under the AWA – FINALLY!

It has taken the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 36 years since the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was passed in 1966, to extend regulatory oversight to birds, rats and mice. A successful lawsuit by the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation (ARDF) and an advocacy campaign by the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) resulted in USDA's agreement in September to set standards for birds, rats and mice, affecting more than 20 million laboratory animals and nearly every biomedical research facility and educational institution in the U.S.

United Poultry Concerns has urged USDA since our inception in 1990 to fulfill its AWA mandate to cover birds, rats, and mice. To show how far things have progressed, here is a composite of replies we received from USDA in the mid 1990s: "In promulgating regulations and standards to enforce the AWA, we [USDA] interpret the AWA as giving the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to exclude certain species, such as birds. In making this determination, we have responded to public sentiment. Mammals such as dogs, cats, and primates have captured public sentiment resulting in a public outcry against research procedures deemed ethically unsound. However, public sentiment has not been similarly shown on behalf of birds, rats, and mice. Therefore . . ."

The point is: Public Pressure Works. It's the only thing that works. As noted by the AAVS which led the successful campaign, "The public is clearly behind this agreement." This time around, 94% of over 40, 000 letters to USDA urged coverage of birds, rats and mice. For more information contact AAVS: 215-887-0816.

(UPC opposes the use of animals in research, but we support every legal protection for animals, who otherwise have nothing.)