February 26, 2024

US conservative tries new tactic against animal research: calling it a waste of money

But it will face powerful opposition from industry and patients.

Anthony Bellotti  addresses White Coat Waste meeting in Washington DC   

Opposition to research on animals is generally viewed in the US as a cause supported by loopy lefties and disdained by conservatives. But a Republican political strategist who worked on campaigns against Obamacare and Planned Parenthood is using his skills to stop government funding for animal research. Anthony Bellotti has launched a group called White Coat Waste which describes animal research as a waste of taxpayer dollars. “That story was being told in the Planned Parenthood and Obamacare debates, but not in the anti–animal research movement,” he told Science. “I wanted to unite the animal lovers and the liberty lovers.”

Earlier this month White Coat Waste opened fire with a Capitol Hill briefing earlier this month co-sponsored by a tax hawk Republican and a PETA supporting Democrat. They are working together to make government research more transparent and to help eliminate wasteful and unnecessary experiments.

White Coat Waste has also released a major report, Spending to Death, about unnecessary research on dogs. Its message is that:

1,100 beagles, hounds and mixed-breed dogs—even puppies—are subjected to painful, bizarre and wasteful experiments inside federal agency laboratories each year

Taxpayers are forced to pay for these experiments without knowing what’s being done, why and how much of their money is being spent

Five federal agencies spend millions of dollars on dog experiments including exposing dogs to anthrax, forcing them to suffer heart attacks and drilling into their skulls

New polling shows that a majority of Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike—want these experiments phased out, their funding cut and spending data about taxpayer-funded animal experiments to be publicly available

What are the group’s prospects for success?

Science writer David Grimm is skeptical. Liberal-conservative alliances eventually come unstuck over ideological differences. And powerful industry voices and patient groups will argue that animal research is essential to make progress in health-related research. 

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