Several bills have been introduced in the New Jersey Assembly which would unintentionally negatively impact biomedical research which is vital to the health of humans and animals alike. Below, the NJABR provides the basis for its recommended amendments to these bills to preserve their intent, while eliminating their unintended consequences to biomedical research.
New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR) (republished with permission)
Assembly Bill Nos. 4773 and 4808, which seek to halt the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of certain animal species threatened with extinction, would unintentionally interfere with life-saving research.
The safe, humane, and rapid transportation of research animals is critical to biomedical research programs throughout the world. The ability to transport animals to institutions and scientists that need them is a crucial component of scientific advancement. Unique disease models, genetically modified animals, and professionally produced high quality animals of every species can only be provided to institutions conducting research if there is the ability to transport these animals from one location to another.
All chimpanzees, even those used in research, are designated as endangered species by the federal government. As such, A4773 and A4808 would prohibit the transport of chimpanzees through New Jersey. This prohibition would even apply to animals being moved to sanctuaries at the end of their time in research. Equally concerning, as defined in the A4808, “priority species” would include blood and other fluids as a product of the animal, which is also critical to certain research programs.
To be clear, NJABR’s concerns are not just focused on human health. Great apes in the wild, including chimpanzees and gorillas, are extremely vulnerable to the Ebola virus, with fatality rates as high as 95 percent. Ebola has killed as many as one-third of the world’s gorillas and chimpanzees in the past few decades in parts of Africa. In order to eradicate the virus in animals, testing on the affected species is needed.
NJABR proposes an exemption from any possession and transportation prohibitions in A4773 and A4808 for animals being used for biomedical research. (See attachment). The proposed amendment for the legislation is narrowly tailored to permit the transport of the designated species to and from legitimate research institutions that are licensed and inspected by the federal government to ensure animal welfare.
Scientific knowledge developed through animal research has saved countless lives, improved human and animal health and alleviated untold pain and suffering. The research community insists on the humane and ethical treatment of all animals used in research, education and testing. The community is guided by the 3Rs philosophy of reducing the number of animals used for research, replacing animals with other methodologies when possible and refining their use when possible. Without exception, the members of NJABR embrace their legal and ethical responsibilities to ensure that animals are not used needlessly and are spared all unnecessary pain and distress.
To be inserted as a third exemption listed in Section 1(d):
(3) The priority species is being transported for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
To be inserted as a new Section 9 in the bill:
Unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, nothing herein shall be deemed to interfere with any animal being transported, imported, exported, processed, sold or shipped for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
 Nancy E. Halpern serves on the Board of Directors and the Government Relations Committee of the NJABR