WHITE COAT WASTE PROJECT (WCW) has won an important legal battle against National Institutes of Health (NIH).
WCW’s mission is to “unite animal-lovers and liberty-lovers to find, expose, and defund wasteful and cruel taxpayer-funded animal experimentation.” They represent both animals and American taxpayers. In respect of animals, they are the voice of the voiceless. They want to stop the wasteful and unethical use of American taxpayer money when sent abroad to adversarial countries to fund cruel animal experiments. Nothing could be more laudable.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds biomedical and behavioral research on animals by approving grants to foreign and domestic research entities.
Lawsuit – civil action
Because this is about a legal matter it is quite technical. However, I think it should interest the general public because this what campaigning can boil down to sometimes. This is really a story, as I see it, about a big US Government department trying to bully, neuter or hobble a campaigning organisation with real clout. And they failed.
WCW state that NIH exempt foreign and domestic research facilities from abiding by US statutory guidelines. WCW claim that NIH use a loophole to allow this to happen and in doing so violated the Public Health Services Act (Services Act).
Specifically, WCW state that the Services Act requires all entities – foreign and domestic – receiving funds for animal research to “maintain an animal care committee to review, approve, and monitor animal experiments, and to ensure proper care for animals.”
And yet NIH has, according to WCW, “enacted multiple contradictory and binding agency rules exempting foreign grant recipients of taxpayer money for animal experiments from maintaining an animal care committee.” The quotes come from the court judgement.
NIH tried to dismiss WCW’s complaint on the grounds that they did not have sufficient ‘interest’ in the matter, that is in NIH’s use of this loophole.
The judge disagreed with NIH. He said that WCW did indeed have an interest in campaigning against NIH’s activities and that WCW had adequately shown that NIH’s conduct “injured its interests” and that it has expended resources to counter the harm.
The Court disagrees – at this stage in the proceedings, White Coat has adequately established that it has organizational standing and that its interests arguably fall within the zone of interests protected by the statute. The Court will thus deny NIH’s motion to dismiss.CARL J. NICHOLS United States District Judge
The judge added that NIH’s decision to exempt foreign entities from having to maintain animal care committees is in direct conflict with WCW’s mission to find, expose and defund wasteful and cruel taxpayer-funded animal experimentation.
And therefore, WCW had to expend resources both in time and money to expose and fight against NIH’s use of this loophole. This confirms that they have an interest in the matter and is the reason, as I understand it, while the judge found in favour of WCW.
P.S. A March 2023 US Government Accountability Office report citing WCW’s lawsuit confirmed that the NIH gives a free pass to all foreign animal labs to abuse animals, leak dangerous viruses, and waste US tax dollars with no oversight.
P.P.S. For those who are interested click here to see the entire judgement. This is an external page. I can’t guarantee that it will remain in place indefinitely.
Statement from Justin Goodman, Senior Vice President, White Coat Waste Project
“From exposing gain-of-function in Wuhan and beagle torture in Tunisia to revealing Putin’s taxpayer-funded treadmills tests on kittens, our Worldwide Waste campaign has uncovered how the National Institutes of Health recklessly ships billions of our tax dollars to animal testing labs in China, Russia, and other foreign countries and has carved out an illegal loophole that gives them a free pass to torture animals, create and leak deadly viruses & waste our tax money with no oversight. We’re thrilled that the court rejected the NIH’s desperate attempt to kill our lawsuit that, if successful, will help cut NIH’s taxpayer-funded animal abuse and wasteful spending overseas. Especially after the deadly taxpayer-funded animal tests we exposed in Wuhan, it’s high time to close the NIH’s illegal foreign animal lab loophole. Stop the money. Stop the madness.”
Statement from Vanessa Shakib, Co-founder, and Co-director, Advancing Law for Animals
“NIH, a federal agency, cannot contradict a law passed by Congress. This case is essential to safeguard animal welfare, protect taxpayer dollars, and preserve the separation of powers essential to our democracy.”
The American public should be very proud of WCW in fighting for their interests and in protecting animals from abuse. This is why I enjoy writing about their work. It is very important work. It goes to the heart of a civilised society.
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