The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued two requests for public comment in March. On March 17, USDA released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on ways to reduce regulatory obstacles to participation in and compliance with USDA programs. On March 30, USDA issued a request for feedback on a petition to amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology is drafting responses to both requests.
The RFI seeks input on ways to improve current USDA regulations to save money and reduce the burden of participation in USDA programs. USDA is particularly interested in suggestions that increase use of advanced information technology, streamline information collection, and reduce redundancy. Responses to the RFI should be submitted online by May 18.
USDA also seeks input from the public on a petition submitted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to amend the AWA, the law that governs the use of certain animals in research, teaching, and testing. When an investigator proposes a procedure that may cause a research animal “more than momentary or slight pain or distress,” the AWA requires the investigator to consider alternative approaches. The petition from PCRM asks USDA to define the term “alternative” and amend the existing definition of “painful procedures” to reduce ambiguity. The petition also requests that USDA specify a course of action to pursue in considering alternative procedures.
USDA solicits input to determine what actions, if any, to take in response to the request. The agency encourages submission of supporting scientific data and documentation. Comments and materials may be submitted online and are due May 29.