The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a new audit that found the NIH shipped over $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to countries like China and Russia for animal testing with little to no oversight.
So, we’re giving our tax dollars to our foreign adversaries to torture animals. Honestly, at this point with the US government, that tracks.
The audit was prompted by the White Coat Waste Project’s (WCW) “Worldwide Waste” investigation and campaign. WCW is an animal welfare organization for people who believe in limited government and free markets. Their main work centers around defunding government-paid-for animal torture as this is actually the most common source of animal abuse in the country. (Full disclosure, I’m a Fellow for WCW).
In 2021, a bipartisan Congressional request for information into these foreign labs was sparked by the same “Worldwide Waste” investigation, which found that over 340 animal labs in 50 different foreign countries were eligible to receive taxpayer dollars from the NIH for animal testing without adequate oversight. This prompted the audit by GAO, which notes in their findings that WCW is currently suing the NIH to close an illegal loophole that exempts foreign animal labs from having federally-mandated animal experimentation oversight committees.
Among the GAO’s other findings are that the NIH does not require foreign animal labs to abide by U.S. laws and policies, does not require foreign animal labs to report abuses and violations, and has never inspected a single foreign animal lab in its 38 years of animal welfare oversight.
This is probably a great time to remind everyone that illegal gain-of-function research, a torturous and risky type of research carried out on animals, was paid for in the Wuhan lab by the NIH, and that we believe this research likely led to the development and subsequent leak of COVID-19. With oversight practices like this, it isn’t hard to see how that could happen.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight & Accountability, said, “Billions of American tax dollars are flowing from the NIH to foreign animal labs like the Wuhan Institute of Virology with virtually no accountability or transparency. NIH’s failure to properly police how tax dollars are spent in foreign animal testing labs is alarming and a threat to national security. I’ll continue fighting to ensure NIH doesn’t give foreign labs a free pass to break U.S. laws, waste money, and abuse animals.”
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, also weighed in stating, “The taxpayer dollars given to the NIH should not be used for obsolete and unnecessary medical testing. As this GAO report makes clear, more oversight is necessary to ensure that animals are being treated humanely and the agency is operating as effectively as possible. I have always proudly supported the protection of animals and look forward to continuing to work in partnership with my colleagues in Congress on these issues.”
Their statements come amidst another push in Congress to prohibit gain-of-function research altogether. Just this week, Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced a bipartisan bill to defund this dangerous practice, which was formerly outlawed under Obama from 2014-2017.
The WCW supports this legislation and their Government Affairs Director, Tristan Daedalus, had this to say about it, “Over the past three years, our investigations first exposed how the NIH wasted tax dollars at the Wuhan lab for treacherous gain-of-function animal experiments in violation of a federal ban and tried to cover it up. Now, lawmakers, the Energy Department, the FBI, former CDC and FDA chiefs, and two-thirds of Democrat and Republican taxpayers believe that Wuhan white coats caused a lab leak and COVID with their risky gain-of-function experiments on bats and humanized mice.”
He continued, “Taxpayers should not be forced to bankroll treacherous animal experiments that place public health in peril, and recent polls show that a majority of Democrat and Republican voters agree.”
“The more we learn about the origins of COVID-19, the more it becomes clear that gain-of-function research is an existential threat,” said Rep. Carter. “The National Institutes of Health and Dr. Fauci knew the risks but continued to fund this research with taxpayer dollars in America and overseas, including at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We must double down on our efforts to prevent irresponsible research and protect our communities from future pandemics.”
“Dr. Fauci and the NIH ignored a moratorium on gain-of-function research and sent taxpayer dollars to the WIV to fund this dangerous practice. While we don’t yet know whether this helped cause the pandemic, we do know that this never should have happened in the first place. This bipartisan bill takes long overdue action to formally freeze any federal funding for gain-of-function research until we can understand the risks it entails and the role it played in the pandemic,” said Rep. Gallagher.
It is simply unacceptable that our tax dollars are being used in this capacity. We don’t have to guess at what the horrific ramifications might be, we now know. There’s no reason to gamble with our lives in this capacity, and taxpayers should never be forced to fund what most would consider to be the unethical treatment of animals. It’s time to get these mad scientists under control.
Hannah Cox is a Fellow at White Coat Waste Project.