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The Progressive War on Science: Obama Admin. Regulations Crushing Research

Obama's out-of-control regulatory environment is hitting university research hard.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

September 30, 2012 - 12:00 am

But that’s just the paperwork, according to him. The experimental effects are far worse, because time spent on regulation and new restrictions on care of animals slows down the work:

In terms of animal care and handling, we must adhere to regulations regarding cage size, food intake, water intake, “environmental enrichment” (activities other than just sitting in the cage), temperature and humidity measurements and control. We have daily veterinarian health checks for primates, weekly for rodents. Our facilities are inspected at least weekly. We have to train all new personnel (about 15-20 hours each) on regulations with refreshers each year (about five hours each).

A Ph.D., he must attend several classes to ensure he knows how to fill out the paperwork and understands the workplace security regulations — activities which have nothing to do with the practice of science:

In August alone, I spent six hours on annual compliance training in “financial conflict of interest,” “workplace security,” “patient abuse” (required since I spend a small amount of time on the hospital campus), “chemical safety,” “hazardous waste,” “Herpes B virus” (primates can carry this and transfer to humans via bites, scratches, or bodily fluids) — and two hours on a triennial human study informed consent and ethics course.

Additionally, under Obama a system which has worked relatively well for many years has been tightened and made more restrictive:

Before about a year ago, most federal oversight agencies exercised what they termed the “age of education.” When USDA (given regulatory power over lab animals by the “Animal Welfare Act” in the 90s) inspected animal facilities, if they found a shortcoming the institution and investigator were informed, a report was written, and they filed it until the next inspection. Only severe infractions or repeated failure to correct them would result in a fine. Now the agencies are in the “age of enforcement.” Infractions are immediately met with fines and penalties. My institution recently had an incident in animal care that was the first of its kind in 25 years. We have a better record than most federal or academic facilities of that type — but the institution was immediately hit with a $25,000 fine.

Not only that, but more and more drugs are being “scheduled” or restricted by the Centers for Disease Control and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which requires — you guessed it — more paperwork:

Use of these chemicals requires licensing, training, facility certification, usage protocols, facility inspections, identification of disposal plans and more paperwork.

Additionally, the NIH book Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which contains the regulations they are supposed to adhere to, was to have been in effect until 2015 with a transition window until 2018 to produce a new edition. In 2009, work on the eighth edition was begun. Debate occured in 2009 and 2010, with public and researcher-only hearings to determine the extent of rules and when they would be applied. According to our source, by 2011 the Guide was in press, and in late 2011 he was informed that the Guide took effect on January 1, with a one-year window to comply.

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