Washington – In a move that severely lowers the level of animal welfare transparency, all records and reports regarding animal welfare was removed from the USDA website without warning. Citing privacy concerns, the USDA will only release such information at the demand of a Freedom of Information Act request, which can take years to process. The reports covered all 7,813 animal industries governed by the USDA, including puppy mills, animal research labs, and horses protected by the Horse Protection Act. The spokesperson for the USDA would not say whether the removal was temporary or permanent.
The notice on the USDA website states that the changes have been implemented after a year long review. For now, the annual reports of the Horse Protection Program enforcement are available, but for how long no one knows.
As the Science Magazine wrote so eloquently.
Author: Dale Williams <-- Become my friend on Facebook! - Phone: 724-964-6773
Public access to the reports has led to scores of media reports like this article in The Boston Globe in 2012 documenting problems at Harvard University’s primate research facility; the university later closed the trouble-prone New England Primate Research Center. Similarly, the reports allowed Nature and The New Yorker to report on the chronic abuse of goats held at the private company Santa Cruz Biotechnology in California, once the world’s second largest marketer of research antibodies. Several months after the Nature report, USDA in a rare move revoked the company’s license to market the antibodies.
“[These are] basic data about animal use and compliance that taxpayers have a right to access, particularly when it comes to taxpayer-funded labs,” says Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project, a Washington, D.C.–based group that opposes taxpayer-funded animal experiments.
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