Bipartisan WATCH Act Targets Illegal Foreign Animal Lab Loophole Exposed by WCW

Posted by Amanda Nieves
20 July 2023 | Blog

From exposing gain-of-function in Wuhan to beagle torture in Tunisia and Putin’s taxpayer-funded treadmills tests on kittens, our ⁠Worldwide Waste investigations have uncovered how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ships billions of U.S. tax dollars to hundreds of foreign animal testing labs with no transparency or accountability.

Now, a bipartisan pair of U.S. Senators have introduced a White Coat Waste Project (WCW)-backed bill, the WATCH Act, to crack down on waste and abuse in taxpayer-funded foreign animal testing labs.  

Bipartisan WATCH Act

Last year, as part of our Worldwide Waste campaign, we sued the NIH over its illegal loophole that completely exempts taxpayer-funded foreign animal testing labs from compliance with U.S. laws and policies that protect against animal abuse, lab accidents, and wasteful spending.  

A subsequent WCW-prompted audit by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) cited our ongoing lawsuit, confirmed the existence of the loophole, and recommended commonsense reforms, including inspections of foreign animal labs funded by NIH (as is required in U.S. labs).  

Now, the U.S. Senate is doing just that.  

Bipartisan WATCH Act

Senators Eric Schmitt (R-MO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have just introduced the WCW-backed Worldwide Animal Testing Compliance and Harmonization Act (S.2397)—the WATCH Act—to close the illegal foreign animal lab loophole.

The bill would, among other things, require foreign labs to adhere to U.S. animal welfare and biosafety standards, institute quarterly inspections of foreign animal labs, give the public access to inspection records, and cut funding from noncompliant labs. 

Both lawmakers are dedicated champions for animals and taxpayers.  

Right after being sworn into Congress in January, one of Sen. Schmitt’s first actions was cosponsoring legislation to defund dangerous and cruel gain-of-function experiments on animals like those that the FBI and others believe caused COVID

And for years, WCW has worked with Sen. Merkley to save kittens and other animals from painful government experiments at home and abroad. He also helped introduce Violet’s Law to retire government lab survivors and we’ve recognized him with a Waste Warrior award for his accomplishments.  

Bipartisan WATCH Act

Caption: Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who helped WCW shut down the USDA’s “kitten slaughterhouse,” with Delilah, one of the lab’s survivors rescued by WCW.


We applaud Senators Schmitt and Merkley for introducing the bipartisan WATCH Act and their outstanding leadership to crack down on foreign labs that abuse dogs, cats, and other animals in cruel and wasteful experiments funded with our tax money. 

We’ve been leading bipartisan efforts with Congress to defund foreign animal testing labs. In the meantime, foreign labs being funded by tax dollars shouldn’t get a free pass to break U.S. laws, abuse animals, waste money, and leak dangerous viruses with impunity. 

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