For Immediate Release:
October 1, 2021
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Seattle – Today, PETA filed a lawsuit against the University of Washington (UW) in the Superior Court of the State of Washington in and for King County over its refusal to disclose exactly who is serving on its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The UW IACUC animal experimentation oversight committee is required under federal laws and guidelines to review all proposed animal experiments and ensure that animal protection laws are enforced in the school’s laboratories—but as PETA has exposed, it has failed to prevent animals’ deaths by starvation, dehydration, strangulation, dehydration, scalding, blood loss, and more.
If PETA is successful, actions taken by the IACUC—including its approval of experimental protocols—in violation of the law may be deemed null and void and any such experimental protocols may need to be reviewed again properly.
The IACUC is a governing body of UW under the Washington Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), which requires public access to meetings of the committee, but UW is concealing its members’ names and approving most animal experiments behind closed doors. The IACUC meets on Zoom, where members are identified (and typically referred to) merely as “IACUC1,” “IACUC2,” and so forth, and even those labels are not applied consistently to the same members. The lawsuit asks the court to order the disclosure of IACUC members’ names and to set aside any actions taken by the IACUC in violation of the OPMA.
“This committee is the last line of defense for animals in UW’s publicly funded laboratories—including monkeys whose skulls are repeatedly cut open—yet it operates without public scrutiny,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA’s lawsuit aims to uncover who is secretly approving hundreds of highly invasive procedures every year while failing to provide adequate oversight of UW experimenters who are starving and scalding animals to death.”
Although federal regulations require IACUCs to have a certain makeup of members, including a nonscientist and a community member representing the general community’s interests in the treatment of animals, one of its “nonscientific” members is Ken Gordon, the executive director of the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, which promotes animal experimentation.
PETA filed a related Public Records Act lawsuit—seeking records and documents associated with the experimental use and breeding of primates at UW’s Washington National Primate Research Center and about the school’s IACUC membership—in December 2020.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.