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Press Releases

Biological warfare agent - Anthrax used in suspended Loyola experiment gone awry; Public endangered by poor biosafety measures, warns group

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Contact: Michael Budkie, SAEN,
513-575-5517; 513-703-9865 (cell)

attn: News Desk

Biological warfare agent - Anthrax used in suspended Loyola experiment gone awry; Public endangered by poor biosafety measures, warns group

CHICAGO, IL - A rabbit experiment at the Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University - for which Loyola received an official warning from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture - apparently involved use of a strain of Anthrax (Bacillus Anthracis), according to SAEN, a non-profit research watchdog organization which is releasing recently obtained federal documents.

Included in the federal documents are minutes of emergency meetings called by a Loyola animal research committee (which suspended the project), as well as documentation of an action taken by the Loyola Biosafety Committee because the project was misclassified

Previously, SAEN released documents which disclosed the Stritch School of Medicine (of Loyola) had amassed 22 federal violations during three inspections - including ones for inadequate veterinary care, repeat violations by the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee, unqualified personnel, and the filing of potentially fraudulent reports with regulatory agencies.

Negligence took the lives of several dogs due to non-existent post surgical care. Rabbits died of infections or from botched experimental procedures, said SAEN.

"The negligence of a Loyola researcher potentially endangered the safety of the people of Chicago by arbitrarily attempting to lower the biosafety classification of a project involving Anthrax - a biological warfare agent," said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN.

"Not only was public safety put at significant risk but federal laws were broken and yet there was no USDA fine. This slap on the wrist by the USDA condones both radically unsafe practices and animal abuse," he said.

According to SAEN the Loyola warning is just the latest in a series of incidents where animals have died due to negligence by laboratories without meaningful consequences.

Other facilities with incidents of fatal negligence include the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (San Antonio, TX) where a baboon was dissected while still alive, SNBL Labs (Everett, WA) killed a marmoset by running the animal through a cage washer and Charles River Laboratories made news for killing 32 primates. None of these facilities were fined by the USDA.

"The USDA has abdicated its responsibility for law enforcement," added Budkie. "This is a dangerous pattern of non-enforcement of the law. We intend to take this issue to congress to prevent another meltdown like those that have crippled our economy."

All federal documents are available upon request from SAEN.


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