WIKIMEDIA, USDAOrganizations accredited for abiding by certain standards of care for their laboratory animals had more violations than institutions that didn’t have such accreditation, according to a study presented at the 9th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences this week (August 25).
“Accreditation has become more of a PR [public relations] tool than a meaningful oversight mechanism,” coauthor Justin Goodman, a director at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and an adjunct instructor of sociology at Marymount University, told Science. “You certainly can’t say that animals are better off in these facilities.”
Research facilities pay the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) to accredit them for complying with the Animal Welfare Act. Goodman and his colleagues analyzed inspection reports from the US Department of Agriculture, including more than 800 facilities visited by the federal agency between 2010 and 2011. Accredited organizations were more likely to end up with a violation than non-accredited organizations, Goodman’s team found.
AAALAC’s Executive Director Christian Newcomer told Science the data were inappropriate because accredited facilities are often larger and perform more complex work than non-accredited ones. Regardless, “I can guarantee this study will generate discussion within AAALAC,” he said. “It won’t be discounted just because it was conducted by PETA.”
According to PETA, Goodman’s report will appear in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science in September.