Debunking the Absurd “Taxpayer Waste” Argument

In recent years, animal rights activists have shifted their tactics aimed at convincing Americans to reject animal-based research, despite its tremendous benefits. We’ve witnessed an increase in lobbying and activist-inspired legislation, especially at the state and local levels. Furthermore, we’re happy to report that extremist acts are on the decline. And while Speaking of Research is pleased that the movement appears to be turning away from illegal and menacing actions, sadly, we cannot equally applaud them for their honesty with the American public. 

Several animal rights groups continue to proclaim that animal studies are no longer needed, even in the face of mountains of scientific data that states otherwise. (Here is some of the latest). Many anti-research activists go even further, making bogus claims that animal studies have failed to improve human health in the past, despite the fact that we are literally surrounded by proof that debunks this fictitious statement. 

This trend of dishonesty with the public has continued in recent months, courtesy of White Coat Waste Project, an animal rights group which we have profiled in the past. According to White Coat Waste’s website: 

“With little accountability or transparency, animal experimenters hop on the gravy train and often ride it for decades at great expense to taxpayers without producing anything of value, draining resources from meaningful research and public health programs.”

– White Coat Waste Project

The statement, from White Coat Waste’s “about us” webpage, is filled with misinformation. Animal studies are highly regulated and vast amounts of information are available to the public. In fact, White Coat Waste often uses (or misuses) this data in crafting arguments to criticize science. No researcher enters the field to “ride the gravy train.”There are far easier ways to make a living. However the biggest fib is the suggestion that animal studies are a waste of taxpayer funding.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

In fact, it would be safe to say that health research, which relies heavily on animal studies, is likely one of the most beneficial ways in which tax dollars are spent.  Speaking of Research editor and neuroscientist Amanda Dettmer recently made this argument in an opinion article in The Hill. Here’s an excerpt: 

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, vaccinations among Americans born in the last 20 years will prevent 322 million illnesses and will save $1.4 trillion in direct and indirect costs over their lifetime. These are advancements that couldn’t have been made without publicly funded, animal-based research. The returns on taxpayer investment now will be astronomical later.

We invite you to read the full article in The Hill, which can be found here. 

10 thoughts on “Debunking the Absurd “Taxpayer Waste” Argument

  1. I am not necessarily against all animal research (if for curing disease, not cosmetics) but I do have a problem with extreme pain experiments and with using beagles or primates.

  2. Simply put, are these animals hurt at all. If they are, simply stop. Find other ways, or use super conputers for basic research. No amount of pain to any life form is worth it. None. We pretty much have determined that T cell and stem cell therapies are where congenital and biological diseases must be pursued.

    1. There is no super computer on the planet that is able to mimic the human body and the incredibly complicated diseases that threaten it such as cancer. That’s the case because human health is so complex. We can’t even come close to mimicking all of its aspects.

      It’s fine to say that you support alternatives (as every scientist on the planet does) but saying that alternatives exist currently for all health studies is just plain fiction. There is also plenty of proof that the combination of human and animal studies prevent disease in humans and animals alike. Publications such as Science, Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine are full of examples.

  3. I wonder if these scientists or researchers would feel the same if they were the one being experimented on! in this day and age there are alternatives to experimenting on cats and dogs which is cruel to say the least. Congress should pass a law on stopping all experimentation on cats and dogs and go to law reforms such as using mice and rats and other such lower forms.

    1. Most studies do involve rodents. But here’s the thing: mice and rats do not always mimic human health. This is why in certain cases, other animals must be studied. For example, dogs and humans both get cancer and the results of those studies have been shown to benefit both species. Any law that says “researchers must study mice” ignores the reality that different species are similar to humans in different ways. The problem with that legislative solution is that it would result in less helpful data and likely the loss of more animal lives.

      1. Thats fine…More people and more animals may live shorter lives but none would be tortured. There is no rationalizing this. Its dead wrong period. How can you sleep at night.

    2. Here’s the thing: no scientist wants to study cats and dogs. But rats and mice do not always mimic human health. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they do not.

      The reality is that you need to study living systems (both human and animals) to combat diseases and sometimes, dogs and cats have the same health issues as we do. Let’s also not forget that a cancer treatment developed in canines also benefits canines.

  4. You say that “animal studies are highly regulated and vast amounts of information are available” then please provide the sources where one might find the information of the VA’s experiments on dogs. Are you also saying that these experiments truly help our veterans? Is this article in The Hill your only reference?

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