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USDA Responds Favorably to AAVS Petition:
GE and Cloned Animals Gain AWA Protection (3/07/06)

In response to AAVS's legal petition, on March 7, 2006, USDA revised its Policy #10 to address the growing use of genetically engineered and cloned animals by researchers, breeders, and exhibitors. AAVS applauds the USDA for clarifying that a facility using genetically engineered animals to "determine the effect of the unconventional introduction of synthetic, species-foreign, or other such genetic material on the phenotype of the animal" is a facility that "must be registered as a research facility" under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

There are an untold number of animals genetically engineered to have unnatural characteristics that are used in research, tests, or experiments. One example is Andi, a rhesus monkey whose tissues glow green under ultraviolet light. This revised policy is important because it clearly states that research facilities using these animals must register with the USDA and comply with the AWA by providing these animals with humane care and treatment.

Within Policy #10, USDA also announced that facilities that produce cloned animals are "breeding animals." If these animals are sold to pet stores, for example, then they must be licensed as dealers. Companies exhibiting these animals must also be licensed. As licensed dealers and exhibitors, animal clone producers are required to meet the AWA's humane care regulations that include providing adequate veterinarian care. Due to the severe health complications suffered by animal clones, it is imperative that the AWA's humane care regulations govern the cloning industry.

In addition, USDA clarified its response to AAVS's petition by stating that this policy does not provide an animal cloning facility with a blanket exemption from registering as a research facility. Instead, USDA will review on a case by case basis a facility's cloning activities to determine its regulatory status. USDA clarified further that a person must be registered as a research facility if he or she is conducting biomedical research, conducting invasive or painful/distressful procedures for non-husbandry purposes, or if the research involves domestic dogs and cats. This policy clarification by USDA makes it clear that companies that are genetically engineering or cloning animals are not shielded from complying with the AWA.

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