People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is calling for a state audit of five UC campuses that it alleges may have used public funds for nonessential animal experiments.
In a Monday letter to California State Auditor Elaine Howle, PETA Vice President of International Laboratory Methods Shalin Gala requested an audit of the UC campuses in Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. PETA claimed in the letter that the use of animals in nonessential experiments violates various federal research standards, including those from the U.S. Public Health Service.
“We’re questioning why any of these animals are being bought, bred, trapped or experimented on in the first place,” Gala said in an email. “There should be no such thing as non-essential animal research taking place in laboratories.”
In a press release, PETA alleged that when nonessential experiments were postponed or canceled during the early months of the pandemic, researchers may have euthanized “hundreds or more” animals in order to reduce laboratory populations. PETA also questioned in the press release the use of taxpayer dollars for experiments deemed to be nonessential.
PETA hopes that an audit would determine if any of the $428 million in public research funding allocated to UC campuses in fiscal year 2019 was used for any experiments on animals found to be extraneous during the pandemic, Gala said in the email. In the letter, Gala urged Howle to take corrective action if this is found to be the case.
The UC Office of the President did not respond with comment as of press time.
On the UC Berkeley campus, however, researchers are not authorized to carry out any nonessential experiments on animal subjects and no euthanasia program was initiated after the pandemic began, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
Though campus research was not canceled or postponed after the beginning of the pandemic, it was limited to ongoing experiments only in order to implement measures that protect both researchers and animal subjects from contracting or spreading COVID-19, said Gregory Lawson, director of the UC Berkeley Office of Laboratory Animal Care, in an email.
“Because the Office of Laboratory Animal Care is considered an ‘essential’ activity, the animals’ health and well-being were maintained,” Lawson said. “And, I am pleased to say there has been no disease transmission in our facilities.”