sets the foundation for cultural values, but context and psychology play significant roles in what is culturally acceptable. An individual’s relationship with animals, for example, colors his/her general view on issues relating to animals.
Foster Riley said the perception of research using animals is also impacted by the perceived decline in the value of science in the United States. Foster Riley noted that while the Bayh-Dole Act1 achieved its intended goal to facilitate the translation of basic science into clinical practice, it also resulted in a “loss of purity” for science. A public perception is that science now is done for profit and is subject to the influence of industry and special interest groups. This decline in the status of science has had a profound effect in law, noted Foster Riley.
Legal Rights, Property, and Legal Standing
In the public eye, legal rights are often a moral issue, with many believing that animals should not be viewed as property. For legal scholars, this is a crucial issue that determines what rights are at stake and who has legal standing to bring a lawsuit. It has been suggested that animals should be able to bring lawsuits themselves, in the same way that a child or a corporation can. Another approach is that people should have broader rights to bring lawsuits on behalf of animals.
Some of the most creative current litigation on animal research regulations, Foster Riley said, involves new uses of the False Claims Act, with lawsuits based on an improper use of public money. Under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants policy, if an investigator violates Public Health Service (PHS) policy on animal care or the Animal Welfare Act, the institution must return the NIH funds used in violation of grants policy. Moreover, an institution can be found in violation of government policy if it fails to report a problem once it is discovered. Under a “false claim” an argument could be made that the institution was claiming to be conducting research appropriately when indeed it was not, noted Foster Riley.
Trade law also can affect animal use. For example, Foster Riley suggested that at least some of the opposition to genetically modified organisms in Europe is based on trade protectionism concerns rather than public health and environmental concerns.
1 The Bayh-Dole Act (Public Law 96-517, Patent and Trademark Act Amendments of 1980) created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, enabling small businesses and non-profit organizations, including universities, to retain title to inventions made under federally funded research programs (NRC, 2006).