USDA Blocking Information on Experiments That Killed 3,000 Cats: Lawsuit

(ANTIMEDIA) — An animal rights group is suing the USDA over its alleged refusal to release information related to a controversial program that has euthanized nearly 3,000 cats since 1982.

The White Coat Waste Project challenges animal experiments funded with taxpayer dollars and recently filed a lawsuit claiming the USDA “continues to wrongfully withhold the requested records.”

Those records concern news that broke earlier this year exposing an ongoing experimental project at a USDA facility in Maryland that infects cats with a parasite to intentionally give them toxoplasmosis, which is usually transmitted to human through meat and can cause miscarriage and birth defects. The White Coat Waste Project obtained that initial information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Two weeks after the cats are infected and studied, they are euthanized. The facility has killed roughly 100 cats per years since 1982.

The White Coat Waste Project released graphic documentation of these experiments, and in June, requested more information via another FOIA request. They say they “never received any acknowledgment or response” from the agency.

[The USDA] is still using cats for something they should be able to do without live animals instead of adopting them out. It’s institutional inertia and laziness,” said Justin Goodman, the advocacy organization’s vice president for advocacy and public policy.

According to a blog post on their website:

After three months, the USDA is in violation of FOIA by failing to provide the materials, or even acknowledge the request. WCW is suing because taxpayers have a right to know how our money is spent.

The USDA said it could not comment on pending litigation, though it previously claimed cats were the only subjects they could conduct the experiments on.

News of the testing sparked widespread outrage, as well as legislation to stop painful and fatal testing on cats and kittens.

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