Press Release

Animal Wellness Action, Center for a Humane Economy Call on Congress to Pass the CARGO Act to Redirect Funding to Human-Relevant Nonanimal Testing Methods

CARGO Act Would Halt Flow of Americans’ Tax Dollars to Fund Unaccountable, Often Illegal Animal Tests in Foreign Labs.

Washington, D.C. — Animal welfare groups have called on Congress to pass the CARGO Act, a new bill that would redirect funds from unaccountable, often illegal animal tests in foreign labs to human-relevant nonanimal testing methods.

The Cease Animal Research Grants Overseas (CARGO) Act (HR 4757), spearheaded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and endorsed by Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, would prevent the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from awarding “grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, or technical assistance” of any kind to any foreign entity for experiments on animals.

The groups said the lack of any U.S. oversight, or any equivalent animal care and oversight programs, is disqualifying for these transfers of billions of tax dollars to unaccountable laboratories. The groups cite examples of mistreatment of animals and also “gain of function” research that could play a role in spawning a new pandemic.

Representatives Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Troy Nehls, R-Texas, lead the bill, and other cosponsors are Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; Brian Mast, R-Fla.; Donald Davis, D-N.C.; Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa.; Nancy Mace, R-S.C.; Zachary Nunn, R-Iowa; Dean Phillips, D-Minn.; and Jill Tokuda, D-Hawaii.

Lukas Vincour / We Animals Media

The CARGO Act would stem the flow of money to unaccountable and potentially illegal foreign animal experimenters who operate outside the reach of U.S. law. Many of these foreign laboratories, based on accounts from some observers, are steeped in old-school methodologies related to the use of animals, rather than human-relevant science. The Congress’s passage of the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 last year was a marker that the United States is moving away from ineffective animal-testing strategies that have fundamental translation problems for the human condition.

“The U.S. Animal Welfare Act requires inspections of labs and some level of transparency and accountability, but the foreign labs collectively taking in billions of Americans’ tax dollars may have no such animal-care programs whatsoever,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “There must be minimum standards of care and oversight, comparable to norms of animal treatment that have been in place in some form in the United States for a half century.”

The NIH has been funding experiments that are cruel and unacceptable without any oversight on animal welfare standards, the groups say. An investigation conducted by PETA showed that between 2003 and 2023, the NIH gave more than $17 million to two organizations in Colombia for projects including experiments on monkeys and mice. Three separate Colombian government agencies launched investigations into the heads of these organizations. One of the agencies has charged the experimenters with causing harm to wild animals, lacking permits to capture monkeys and experiment on them, and committing other environmental crimes. Criminal charges may follow.

The experiments were suspended, and authorities rescued 108 monkeys found with old fractures, amputations, missing teeth and eyes, necrosis, and more. City officials shut down the facility after finding it unsanitary and dangerous, rescuing an additional 180 mice.

Other examples of U.S. Taxpayer funded cruelty include:

  • Addicting dogs to opioids and rats to cocaine
  • Testing highly toxic substances in beagles
  • Causing strokes in monkeys and infecting them with HIV-like viruses and tuberculosis
  • Infecting pigs, hamsters, and snails with parasites
  • Wounding rabbits’ vocal cords and spinal cords
  • Removing the eyes of mice
  • Tormenting bats to make them a “model” to study coronaviruses
  • Infecting bats with highly harmful viruses — and setting the stage for the next pandemic
  • Restraining fully conscious rats, implanting more than 500 electrodes in their brains, and forcing the animals to live like this for months
  • Infecting mice with gonorrhea

“There should be no category of U.S.-funded research exempt from our legal standards of animal care,” said Tamara Drake, director of research and regulatory policy for the Center for a Humane Economy.

The CARGO Act would:

  • Save federal dollars. The NIH paid out about $2.2 billion in taxpayer money to foreign organizations during the decade ending in 2021. That money went to approximately 200 foreign organizations and funded 1,177 grants and 180 contracts involving experiments on animals in 45 countries, including China and Russia. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which fall under the NIH umbrella, funded a third of the grants and 95% of the contracts.

  • Stop misuse of funds. The NIH has no oversight regarding how they operate or how the money is spent, with the exception of its leverage for future grant-making.
    • Foreign organizations receiving less than $750,000 a year—or roughly 90% of the grants awarded in the last five years — are exempt from NIH audits.
    • NIH doesn’t inspect foreign laboratories or arrange third-party inspections to ensure that the facilities meet animal welfare standards.
    • NIH sends out checks without verifying that claims in grant applications and progress reports are valid.
    • NIH doesn’t require foreign laboratories to have an oversight committee that reviews proposed experiments and ensures compliance with laws and regulations.
    • NIH provides taxpayer money and then simply trusts foreign organizations to report, if they’re so inclined, any information about finances, facilities, and animal welfare violations.

  • Practice 21st-century science. Experiments on animals overwhelmingly fail to lead to treatments for humans. 90 to 95% of new medications that test safe and effective on animals go on to fail in human trials. American tax dollars should support only the best research and would be better spent on modern human-relevant test methods and their qualification for regulatory use. Expediting these efforts is not only imperative to ensure safe and effective therapies reach patients sooner, but for global competitiveness, national security, and pandemic preparedness.

“Sending US tax dollars to foreign nations to experiment on animals to model human pathologies is only going to move us backwards,” said Zaher Nahle, senior scientific advisor for the Center for a Humane Economy. “Continuing down this path will only lead to delayed treatments, overlooked therapies, out-of-control drug prices, animal abuse, and billions in productivity loss.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more 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. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter