Congress Suspends Animal Rights for Rats, Mice, and Birds

Illustration by Jason Holley

Last May Congress played with definitions while amending the Animal Welfare Act. Even small children might be surprised to discover that their representatives in Washington no longer consider rats, mice, and birds used in laboratory experiments to be animals, or at least animals worthy of protection.
    Senator Jesse Helms, the retiring 81-year-old Republican conservative from North Carolina, slipped in the amendment to a farm bill at the last minute, and it was approved by a voice vote, which means no one's vote is on the record. President George W. Bush signed the measure into law.
    However, lab researchers around the country may have been granted only a temporary reprieve. Marcia Kramer, director of legal and legislative programs at the National Anti-Vivisection Society, noted: "What can be legislated can be un-legislated."
— Jeffrey Winters
From Discover Magazine, this month

John Landon
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