Congress appears ready to pass legislation ending a federal government requirement that potential new drugs must be tested on animals before they can be approved for use on humans, and our Lean to the Left podcast guest has been working to win approval of that bill.
Marty Irby is executive director at Animal Wellness Action and Senior Vice President at the Center for a Humane Economy and helped shepherd the FDA Modernization Act, which contains a provision removing that requirement, through the U.S. House of Representatives last month. Companion legislation is expected to win approval in the Senate.
According to Irby, the regulation requiring animal testing for new drugs was established in 1937, and that since then developments in science and technology now provide alternatives that are less costly and more effective.
Irby points out in our interview that there is an island off the coast of South Carolina where monkeys are bred by the federal government for use in animal testing. He questions why the government is in the business of providing monkeys to the pharmaceutical industry, a process that is funded with tax dollars. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) represents that area of SC and was a leading sponsor of the legislation in the House to end the animal testing requirement.
During our interview, Irby also talks about legislation he's pushing that would ban the breeding and use of tiger cubs for money-making photo ops at zoos and other tourist attractions, noting that once those tigers are little more than six weeks old they often are simply killed.
Another bill he's advocating would end mink farming in the U.S., as he says those animals have been found to spread strains of the Covid 19 virus. Currently, according to Irby, there are about 60 mink farmers remaining and the large majority of pelts they produce are sold in China. So essentially, he contends, Americans risk contracting Covid 19 so wealthy people in China can wear mink coats.
Irby has worked on Capitol Hill, is a top lobbyist, and even has been recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for working to reduce violence in the training of horses. In November 2019, he was recognized by President Trump at the signing of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act that he helped get passed.
Marty grew up on a South Alabama farm with horses, cattle, and other animals and eventually became president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. It was then that he shifted his attention to animal protection and joined efforts to eliminate cruel training practices in the equine world.
If the humane treatment of animals concerns you, take a listen to this episode, which was recorded just before the House approved its version of the FDA Modernization Act: