GenOpp: How the Government Is Perpetuating $12 Billion in Animal Cruelty

Posted by Justin Goodman
14 July 2015 | Blog


Wondering just how the government wastes more than $12 billion of your money each year on worthless animal experiments? Generation Opportunity breaks it down in a new interview with WCW founder and president Anthony Bellotti. The full article is below.

In summer of 1995, 17-year-old Anthony Bellotti accepted an internship at a taxpayer-funded animal experimentation laboratory.

Before that summer, Anthony Bellotti had never really thought about animal activism. But his internship experience led him to realize just how cruel, and often unnecessary, government-funded animal testing was—and how American taxpayers, like it or not, were unfairly being forced to subsidize most of it.

Bellotti told the Huffington Post:

You don’t support “socialized medicine,” why on earth would you support socialized “medical research? And even if you support animal experimentation in principle, do you really want to pay for it with higher taxes?

As the result of his summer internship, Bellotti decided to dedicate the rest of his life fighting animal cruelty by targeting its source: wasteful government spending. Two years ago, Bellotti founded the White Coat Waste Project, an organization dedicated to challenging wasteful government spending as the source of the majority of animal testing.

Generation Opportunity had a chance to sit down with Bellotti to better understand the issue. Apparently, the government, through the National Health Institute (NIH), spends between $12 billion and $14.5 billion tax dollars to pay for wasteful and completely unnecessary animal experiments. That doesn’t even include funding for experimentation through organizations like the EPA, the USDA, and other agencies.

These are not the experiments driving the latest cutting-edge medical discoveries; they are being done to satisfy academic interests. In fact, 47 percent of NIH grants go to benefit research projects at colleges and universities. And each individual project costs millions.

Take the following examples:

  • The recent economic “stimulus” spending program sent $144,541 in taxpayer dollars to Wake Forest University where researchers forcibly addicted monkeys to cocaine. The conclusion of the experiment was that cocaine was highly addictive and dangerous.
  • The taxpayer-funded Oregon National Primate Research Center spent $9.5 million to force-feed monkeys fatty food and sugary drinks while they were shut into tiny cages. Researchers concluded from this endeavor that the monkeys would have benefitted from more activity and less rich food.
  • Researchers at the Ohio State University spent $9 million to force beagles to run on treadmills to see how long it would take to induce heart attacks. For 20 years, this study reinforced the knowledge that exercise can be good for you—in moderation. Ohio State recently wrapped up its endeavors, but Wayne State University is continuing this line of research.


Government is using our generation’s money to provide these grants. We’re providing the funding, but we’re not receiving any accountability for what these experiments are actually accomplishing. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that animal testing isn’t effective at all for creating new products or solutions for humans.

Ex-NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said:

We have moved away from studying human disease in humans. It’s time we stopped dancing around the problem…we need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans.

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admitted that 92 to 96 percent of all the drugs tested successfully on animals would fail on humans.

Contrast this with the private sector in the U.S., which, according to Bellotti, spends a fraction of what the government spends per year in the United States. He told Generation Opportunity:

[The private sector is] realizing that animal experimentation is slow, ineffective, and expensive because beagles aren’t merely furry little people who walk on all fours. It’s much more complicated than that. Testing a new drug on a mouse is no guarantee that it’s going to be a safe OR effective drug for humans. It actually leads to a lot of false positives and false negatives. And when the private sector does engage in animal experimentation, it’s usually because [it] is forced to because of an outdated 1930s-era regulation. So [it often has] no choice but to comply.

New technologies and ways of testing drugs, treatments, and even makeup have been permeating the private sector, causing it to move away from animal testing as a means of research. The federal government, in contrast, continues to use tax dollars to perpetuate a practice which is both cruel and often ineffective. As Bellotti says:

If something is truly valuable, find your own money to do it.

If you care about government waste, and if you care about defunding a cruel and ineffective method of research, sign the petition below to let our lawmakers know that we want some accountability for where our taxpayer dollars are going.


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