Tell USDA to Take Meaningful Action Against Biotech Cited for Animal Welfare Act Violations

Date: 
Monday, June 23, 2014
Photo by Martin Cathrae. Please note that this is not a goat from SCBT

Dear Humanitarian,

The Animal Welfare Institute continues to monitor the longstanding pattern of alleged serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) at a major supplier of animal-derived antibody products to the research industry. With a court hearing scheduled three weeks from today (July 14, 2014), we need your help now to ensure that the company is punished to the fullest extent of the law and does not merely receive a slap on the wrist.

In 2005, Santa Cruz Biotechnology (SCBT) received just such a slap: a $4,600 fine resulting from 23 alleged AWA violations regarding animal sanitation, veterinary care and personnel training over a two-year period. But that paltry fine did not deter SCBT. Since May 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors have documented egregious and ongoing alleged violations of the AWA at SCBT (as well as multiple citations in July 2007).

Many of these alleged violations prompted the agency to file a formal complaint in July 2012—a serious step that USDA rarely takes. According to the inspection reports, these alleged violations, which include failing to provide veterinary care for sick and injured animals, have caused much needless suffering. The most appalling report, from October 31, 2012—which, like many of the most serious alleged violations, is not included in the July 2012 complaint—indicates that SCBT willfully hid the existence of an entire facility housing over 800 goats used in antibody production. 

Based on the grave and cumulative nature of SCBT's alleged violations, we have written to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seeking revocation of SCBT's license. However, we need your help! USDA is the only federal agency that can take enforcement action against SCBT. After nearly two years of delay, the July 2012 complaint is scheduled for a court hearing beginning on July 14.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
SCBT will want to resolve this case without a public hearingand unfortunately, USDA routinely settles complaints against registered research facilities. It is important that you contact Secretary Vilsack as soon as possible, requesting that SCBT face license revocation and the stiffest fine allowed under the Animal Welfare Act.

You can send an email through the Compassion Index by clicking here, where you will find suggested talking points to include in your email.

Emails to Secretary Vilsack can be sent to agsec@usda.gov. (Please begin your email with "Dear Mr. Secretary" or "Dear Secretary Vilsack") You may write to Secretary Vilsack at the following address:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Below are some talking points you can use in your letter to Secretary Vilsack:

  • Thank you for the diligence and hard work of the USDA veterinarians who have spent years inspecting SCBT and documenting its many alleged violations.
  • Note that with almost every routine inspection since 2010 available to the public, violations have been reported.
  • The denial by multiple SCBT employees of the existence of an entire site housing over 800 goats, even after direct and repeated questioning by USDA inspectors is alarming, and would appear to indicate a deliberate attempt to evade federal oversight.
  • SCBT must have its USDA license revoked and must be fined to the maximum extent allowed under the law.
     

For additional information, including the inspection reports, as well as international media coverage, visit http://awionline.org/SCBT.

Please take action right away and pass this Dear Humanitarian eAlert on to family, friends and coworkers and encourage them to submit comments, too. Secretary Vilsack must hear from individuals like you who are concerned about the welfare of animals in research to ensure that SCBT is held fully accountable for its contemptible conduct—and all regulated entities get the message that noncompliance has consequences.

As always, thank you very much for your help!

Sincerely,

Cathy Liss
President

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