Animal Welfare Organizations and Key Scientists Oppose California Proposition 14
Hidden ingredient of stem cell measure is reliance on animal testing and sidestepping of more innovative, science-based alternatives
Los Angeles, CA — The Los Angeles-based Animal Wellness Foundation, Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, and PawPAC are urging all California to vote “No” vote on Proposition 14 as a massive expense to the state and the trigger for a catastrophic amount of animal testing for new drug development. Prop 14 has surface appeal because it promises to offer cures and therapies to deadly and debilitating diseases, but the research process will still be guided by archaic U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for animal testing even in cases when the animals cannot contract the disease or show symptoms from its effects. The groups urge all humane-minded voters to oppose Prop 14.
Prop 14, also opposed by major editorial boards throughout the state that have noted conflicts of interests among the governing group overseeing grant-making for stem-cell projects, issues $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) with additional repayment costs of $2.3 billion. Voters approved a $3-billion investment in a stem-cell measure in 2004, yet grandiose promises have been unfulfilled since that time and boosters of the measure are seeking nearly twice the money allocated in the original measure. The proposition omits any mention of funding animal research, yet existing FDA regulations require animal tests (rodent and non-rodents, and that the latter typically means dogs or primates) before testing the drug in human clinical trials.
“FDA continues to require animal testing for new drug development even though the reaction of animals to the drugs is typically not predictive of the human response,” said Dr. Annie Harvilicz, D.V.M. and Chief Medical Officer for the Animal Wellness Foundation in Los Angeles. “New drugs that pass animal tests fail in an astonishing 95 percent of human clinical trials. We need to use the best, most innovative testing methods and not rely exclusively on animal tests at a critical stage in the drug development process.”
While CIRM does provide some grants for researchers using non-animal cell-based methods (organoids, high throughput screening, human epithelial cells, etc.), we expect the preponderance of the funding to go towards preclinical animal tests.
“When it comes to stem cell research funded in California by CIRM, a majority of the projects involve the use of animals, and Prop 14 contains no safeguards to prevent or even to minimize animal use.” said René Rowland, PawPAC Chair. “Until FDA standards are changed — allowing for the best pathways for developing cures and therapies for disease, and not exclusively relying on animal testing – we cannot support this massive and often scientifically questionable use of animals in laboratories.”
“Relying on a test method that gives us inaccurate results 9 out of 10 times doesn’t help patients,” said Dr. Sarah LaMere, DVM, Ph.D., of the Animal Wellness Foundation Veterinary Council also based in California. “Instead, it wastes finite tax dollars, and it causes misery for animals. The federal government is primarily responsible for funding this work, and especially in the midst of an economic crisis due to the pandemic, it’s the wrong time for Californians to be footing the bill of such a wasteful initiative.”
The organizations urge a NO on Prop 14.
The Center for a Humane Economy (“the Center”) is a non-profit organization that focuses on influencing the conduct of corporations to forge a humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both.
Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.
The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.