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4 Takeaways from “The Future of Animal Law” Workshop

4 Takeaways from “The Future of Animal Law” Workshop

Last Friday, I had the honor of presenting at a workshop, "Future Directions for Laboratory Animal Law in the United States," organized by the following three groups:

-The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research
-The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
-The Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School

Throughout the day, we discussed the ethical and legal implications of new technology on laws, regulations, and policies surrounding animals in laboratories. As a speaker, member of the audience, and an animal advocate, here are my 4 takeaways from the workshop:

  1. The U.S. government is relying too heavily on input from animal researchers as they consider the regulatory burden on those researchers, and not seeking inclusive, broad-based feedback from stakeholders who want to see animals protected.
  2. I was grateful for the creative thinkers in the room, one of whom posed a compromise position that would see birds, mice, and rats subject to research brought under the limited protection of the Animal Welfare Act in return for reduced regulatory burden in other areas.
  3. There are still far too few researchers who are willing to question the ethical underpinnings of what they do and how they do it. 
  4. The development and adoption of new technologies (particularly in the realm of gene editing) highlight the need for a new legal and regulatory schemes that better protects animals, the environment, and people from the risk of serious unintended consequences.

As animal advocates, we will need to fight hard these next years to ensure that meaningful protections for animals in research do not get stripped away by the current administration. As we fight the good fight, please know how grateful I am for your support as we work together to end the use of animals in science and replace them with modern, human-relevant alternatives. 

P.S. My slides from the workshop are available online! Click here to view/download it. You can also email me at nherschler@neavs.org with any comments or questions you may have.