Press Releases

Reps. Roybal-Allard & Calvert Introduce HEARTS Act to Prioritize Non-Animal Testing Methods in NIH Research

Bill wins support of world-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall

f t # e
Washington, June 23, 2021 | Benjamin Bryant (2023092383) | comments

WASHINGTON, DC  –  Today, U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Ken Calvert (CA-42) announced the re-introduction of the Humane and Existing Alternatives in Research and Testing Sciences (HEARTS) Act of 2021 to promote the use of humane and effective non-animal research and testing methods in experiments funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

While millions of animals are still forced into research experiments annually, non-animal research and testing methods spare significant numbers of animals from pain, distress and death; are increasingly more cost-effective than animal tests; and produce reliable data that is more relevant to human health.

However, without meaningful encouragement for implementing modern non-animal methods, dogs, cats, primates, and small mammals, among others, continue to be exploited in painful and duplicative experiments. The HEARTS Act amends the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 and directs the NIH to provide incentives to researchers to use non-animal methods whenever feasible and applicable.

“I’m honored to introduce the HEARTS Act to prioritize the use of non-animal testing methods in the National Institutes of Health review system,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “These non-animal testing methods are more humane, and often more accurate and less costly, than increasingly outdated and wasteful inhumane animal research methods. If the NIH review system starts to prioritize non-animal testing, it will only strengthen the value and accuracy of its findings in the years to come and improve the lives of Americans and people around the world.”

“With a growing number of scientifically sound, non-animal testing alternatives, tax payer funded research should prioritize alternative methods whenever possible,” said Rep. Calvert. “The HEARTS Act would take another meaningful step in protecting animals from unnecessary use in federally funded research. This bill is a win for animals and taxpayers alike, and I look forward to working with Representative Roybal-Allard to get this bipartisan legislation signed into law.”

“There is a growing awareness that animal-based research and methodologies cannot reliably answer the vexing scientific questions that arise in seeking to cure human diseases, develop new drugs and ensure the safety of new products. For the challenges that confront us, we need to focus on humane and human-relevant science,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace. “But current law sets low expectations and provides little incentive for researchers to earnestly search for and use non-animal alternatives. The HEARTS act will raise the bar to improve the quality as well as the humaneness of our science.”

The HEARTS bill amends the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 to provide meaningful incentives for non-animal research methods. Specifically, the bill requires:

•            The establishment of incentives to use available non-animal methods.

•            Creation of standardized guidelines for evaluating non-animal approaches.

•            Proposal review by at least one person with expertise in non-animal research.

•            A reference librarian to evaluate the adequacy of the search methods.

“Currently, the NIH spends at least $12 billion a year on animal testing, but research shows that the return on investment is often low, and the results irrelevant because of their inability to accurately predict human reactions,” said Monica Engebretson, North America Head of Public Affairs for Cruelty Free International. “Prioritizing the use of non-animal methods in taxpayer-funded research could improve the cost efficacy of our federal research investment and foster innovation in science which would in turn lead to better therapies for human conditions and save animal lives. Cruelty Free International is grateful for the leadership of Representatives Roybal-Allard and Calvert in sponsoring the HEARTS Act and we look forward to working with them as the bill advances though Congress.”

Dr. John P. Gluck, a former primate researcher and an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico said, “The legislative moves described in the HEARTs Act of 2021 to incentivize researchers to take more seriously the ethical and scientific benefits of using and developing non-animal alternatives will help to bridge the problematic gap that has remained in place in the United States for so long.”   

According to a 2019 SurveyUSA nationwide poll, 79 percent of voters said that the NIH should prioritize research proposals that utilize scientifically valid alternatives to animal testing and 80 percent said that medical researchers seeking funding for animal tests should first be required to show that an alternative is not available. 

f t # e