DOD database stifles disclosure on animal research

The Defense Department is not providing adequate public disclosure of information in its database for tracking past and ongoing biomedical experiments on animals, according to a General Accounting Office report.

According to the report, "DOD Animal Research: Improvements Needed in Quality of Biomedical Research Database," GAO found "instances in which the information in the DOD Biomedical Research Database was inaccurate, incomplete and inconsistent, resulting in inadequate public disclosure."

GAO also found one instance in which animals were used as part of a classified program to conduct offensive weapons testing, despite DOD's assurances to Congress that no animals were used for such purposes.

DOD established the BRD in 1995 and made it available to the public on the Internet after Congress expressed concern about the lack of disclosure regarding the department's animal use programs.

GAO's review found that the BRD does not provide required data on "the numbers and species of animals used for DOD projects [or] about the pain to which animals were subjected."

In DOD's official response to the report, Delores M. Etter, deputy undersecretary of Defense for science and technology, said the BRD is not capable of handling all the information requested by Congress. She said DOD will take steps to improve the quality of information in the BRD, but software and hardware upgrades are not being considered.

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