Legislative Victories—a Mid-Year Update

No Animal Testing

Halfway through 2022, we have many reasons to celebrate our progress on behalf of animals. Here’s where things stand now—and where we need to go next.

Following a blockbuster 2021, when five states passed humane cosmetics acts (HCAs) to end the sale of cosmetics tested on animals (with some exceptions), so far in 2022 we have passed two state HCAs: one in Louisiana and one in New York, which is still pending the governor’s signature. While both victories are worthy of celebration, passage of an HCA in New York holds significant weight because of the state’s massive economy. When states like California, which passed an HCA back in 2018, and New York pass legislation that effects corporate practices, typically industry standards quickly fall in line to remain relevant.  

We saw victory in Iowa earlier this year when the state passed a “post-research adoption” bill. Fourteen states have now passed legislation to mandate that research facilities establish an adoption program for cats and dogs that are no longer needed in research, thereby giving thousands of companion animals a second chance at the lives they deserve. This legislation is important to support as we continue to work toward a future when cats, dogs and other animals are no longer used as mere research instruments.  

In other exciting news, Virginia state lawmakers came through for animals in a big way this year. After news broke about a series of federal animal welfare violations at a Virginia breeding facility that supplies dogs to research institutions – including the death of more than 300 puppies from “unknown causes” – Virginia state lawmakers passed five bills to better regulate breeders that breed dogs and cats for research. Once enacted, the new laws will tackle several shortcomings:

  • Virginia facilities that breed cats or dogs for research will be prohibited from selling the animals for 2 years if federal inspectors document a single serious animal welfare violation, beginning July 1, 2023. This makes Virginia the first state able to punish research animal breeders for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
  • Virginia’s animal cruelty laws will now cover dogs and cats bred and raised for research – a group of animals that had previously been exempt from such protections.
  • Breeders who supply dogs and cats for research will be required to adopt out healthy animals that they no longer need. Typically breeding animals are killed once they are no longer needed or able to reproduce.
  • Research breeders must submit quarterly records on all dogs and cats sold for research.

As we enter the second half of the year, we also have cause for hope that much needed federal legislation may finally become law. The FDA Modernization Act has been added as an amendment to broader, “must-pass” FDA-related legislative packages in both the House and Senate. The package of bills passed the House by a vote of 392 to 28, and the Senate version has cleared the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. If it becomes law, the FDA Modernization Act will clarify that drug developers can use more modern and effective non-animal test methods to show a drug’s safety and efficacy.

Current language steers drug developers toward animal testing as the best way to ensure FDA approval. The lead sponsor of the FDA Modernization Act, Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, said it best: “Our drug development paradigm needs a reboot, and this bill moves us in that direction in one simple but meaningful way. Animal tests, in large part, are not predictive of the human response to drugs, with very high failure rates when the drugs go to clinical trials.”

While we celebrate these victories, we are still working hard to pass additional legislation in 2022. To find out how you can help pass legislation to help lab animals, please visit the NAVS Advocacy Center.