Washington Update

FASEB Webinar Raises Awareness About New Animal Research Report

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
To introduce its new report on animal research activism, FASEB hosted a webinar earlier this month with the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), and Americans for Medical Progress (AMP). The webinar provided key highlights from the report and emphasized that all stakeholders play a role in improving support for animal research.

The first two topics focused on the targets of animal rights groups and the tactics they use to deter federal and public support for studies with animals (Chapters 1 and 2 of the report). To explain the evolution of animal rights activism, speakers described how animal rights groups have shifted their approach from extreme, illegal attacks on individual investigators to more subtle and sophisticated methods like using the legislative and policy process to advance their agenda. With this shift over the last decade, animal rights groups are increasingly pressuring members of Congress and senior White House officials to influence decision-making at the highest levels and prevent researchers from conducting essential animal studies. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 decision to phase out mammalian research by 2035 resulted from animal rights groups’ lobbying campaigns.

As part of these organizations’ commitment to protecting the research workforce, the webinar reviewed the report’s recommendations to mitigate potential targeted action by opposition groups (Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the report). AMP noted that animal rights activists frequently use misleading statistics and outdated images taken out of context to disparage vital scientific work. This common tactic underscores the growing importance of public education and openness about animal research. FASEB shared ways for stakeholders to effectively use the policymaking process—responding to Requests for Information, monitoring advisory council meetings, etc.—to elevate the needs of the animal research community with federal agencies. Finally, FBR described the value of opinion polling to not only gauge public trust on this topic but also identify information gaps among nonscientists that can inform the development of future resources.
If you or your colleagues need assistance communicating about your work with animals or feel threatened by animal rights groups, please contact your local law enforcement as well as FASEB, NABR, FBR, and AMP for assistance.