Animal rights group uses findings to challenge Farm Bill amendment; bill passes despite organization's efforts; 'absolutely no science behind decision'
Raleigh, N.C.A six-month undercover operation into University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill's animal laboratories has led to one researcher's condemnation and a lobbying effort to stay an amendment within the Farm Bill.
Using video documentation, a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animalsmember (PETA) recorded live animals improperly gassed and thrown out withthe dead, among other cruel acts, the group says. The video was sent toCongress in an effort to rid the Farm Bill of an amendment, sponsored byNorth Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, that excludes birds, mice and rats fromprotection of the Animal Welfare Act.
At presstime, the Farm Bill, including Helm's amendment passed in bothcongressional houses and was scheduled for White House approval.
"There's absolutely no science behind the decision they made,"a PETA spokeswoman says. "Common sense and decency did not win outin this case."
Congress might have ignored the tape, but UNC Vice Chancellor of ResearchTony Waldrop has not. After taking "a cursory look" at the video,Waldrop set forth an investigation that's ended one researcher's animalhandling privileges and could result in much more.
"We are committed to the highest quality of care for animals onthis campus," he says. "I investigate all allegations very seriously."
Waldrop warns that all medical facilities, including veterinary medicalinstitutions, are vulnerable to the undercover operations of groups suchas PETA. "It's very easy for them to come forth with allegations,"he says.
PETA has turned the tape over to the National Institutes of Health inhopes the government agency will cut the university's funding. Currently,UNC ranks twelfth on the agency's payroll for higher education, receiving$237 million annually.