As the previous AWI Quarterly was going to press, we received the stunning news of a USDA settlement with Santa Cruz Biotechnology (SCBT) with respect to allegations of repeated and egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The fallout from the monumental $3.5 million fine—more than 12 times larger than any prior fine levied by the USDA in the 50-year history of the AWA—and the license revocation of one of the world’s largest suppliers of antibodies continue to cause what one anonymous online commenter called “shockwaves” throughout the research community.
As several articles have noted, mice—the most commonly used species for producing monoclonal antibodies—are not covered by this settlement. (Mice are among the animals excluded from protection under the AWA.) And because SCBT is a private company that currently receives no direct NIH funds, there is no regulatory protection for the untold numbers of mice used by SCBT. As one vocal proponent of animal research who conducts NIH-funded addiction experiments stated, “If they can treat goats and rabbits so horribly, one wonders what they feel comfortable doing to mice.”
Multiple researchers have agreed with AWI that animal welfare should be a priority in purchasing decisions. The aforementioned experimenter took it a step further: “Frankly, Santa Cruz should go out of business, and the scientific community should hasten that by refusing to buy their products.”