Legislation and Policy

NEAVS works to educate the public, change existing laws, policies, and practices, and enact new laws to end the use of animals and to improve protections while they remain in labs. Currently, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA, 1966) is the only existing federal law requiring even minimum standards of care and treatment for animals in U.S. labs. (The federal Public Health Service's (PHS) Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals covers animals in NIH-funded research, but the PHS does not conduct inspections itself. Instead, it relies on institutions to inspect their own labs.) The AWA, however, excludes mice, rats, and birds (90-95% of animals in labs), cold-blooded animals, farmed animals, and others. Further, it has no authority to limit what can be done to an animal in a research protocol once that protocol is approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the lab.

In 2000, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act established groundbreaking protections for chimpanzees when it forbade euthanasia as a means of disposing animals no longer needed. Further, it required retiring chimpanzees to sanctuary once no longer needed for research – the only law of its kind. The act set a precedent in moral consideration that later helped lead to the 2013 National Institutes of Health (NIH) decision to retire nearly 90% of its chimpanzees. Affording chimpanzees such protection coupled with substantive arguments against their necessity or usefulness in biomedical research for human health – despite that they are humans’ closest genetic relative – sets the stage for ending the use of all animals.

NEAVS has headed-up or supported the following legislative/policy initiatives:

  • Advocating for the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA) to end invasive research on all chimpanzees and release federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuary
  • Petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the Mandatory Alternatives Petition that calls for using validated, non-animal alternatives (whenever they exist) in place of animal testing
  • Petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list captive chimpanzees as "endangered" like their free-living relatives, instead of "threatened"
  • Petitioning the NIH to establish criteria when a chimpanzee is no longer needed for research and must be retired to sanctuary
  • Urging the NIH to retire all of its federally owned chimpanzees, including the 50 NIH plans to hold “in reserve” for potential future research
  • Urging private laboratories and their affiliated universities to follow suit with the U.S. government and retire privately owned chimpanzees with funding to sanctuary
  • Petitioning the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate alternatives to animal use to end the cruelty and bad science associated with animal use, and the environmental impact of using and disposing millions of animals along with the chemicals and other hazardous or infectious wastes the animals were exposed to
  • Petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to define and enforce criteria for psychological well-being for primates in labs as required by the Animal Welfare Act