Millions of US taxpayer dollars are being sent to shady laboratories in China to fund cruel and dangerous experiments on animals.
Records show more than $15 million in government grants has funded animal experiments in foreign labs from 2013 to this year, despite concerns that dubious Chinese research may have started the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of the US-sponsored research involved gathering dangerous avian flu viruses from China’s wet markets and infecting chickens, ducks, and guinea pigs to ‘supercharge’ the viruses and make them more transmissible.
While not technically illegal, research in China is not subjected to the same stringent ethical and safety protocols in the US.
A previous watchdog oversight investigation found grant money sent to Chinese labs is often subject to little or no oversight.
Between 2015 and 2023, at least seven US entities supplied NIH grant money to labs in China performing animal experiments, totaling $3,306,061
The above labs in China, which run animal experiments, are all eligible to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health
From fiscal years 2021 to 2023, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), America’s primary agency for medical and public health research and response, awarded 15 grants totaling $3.6 million to institutions in China that perform experiments on animals.
In that same time, the NIH provided at least 92 sub-awards worth $12.5 million to institutions in China.
A sub-award allows another organization to perform some activities for the NIH grant under the NIH’s supervision.
For example, in some instances, the NIH awarded a grant to an educational institute, which then sent money to Chinese entities performing animal experiments with no oversight.
Federal spending data from 2020 revealed the NIH spent an estimated $140 million on animal experiments in 29 foreign countries.
Watchdog group White Coat Waste Project has been fighting to force the government to stop sending American tax dollars overseas to fund virus and drug testing on animals.
The organization was the first to discover the NIH sent millions of dollars to unmonitored and dangerous animal experiments in China and Russia.
Georgia Tech sent $770,466 of a $2.7 million NIH grant to the Kremlin-linked Pavlov Institute of Physiology, which conducted experiments on cats.
According to the WCW Project, the experiments included implanting electrodes into the cats’ spines and muscles and removing parts of their brains. The felines were also locked in metal frames and forced to walk on treadmills. They were then killed and dissected.
Additionally, between 2018 and 2020, the University of Illinois gave approximately $123,550 of a $1.6 million NIH grant and an undisclosed amount from a USDA grant to the Kremlin-linked Institute of Cytology and Genetics to study the social behavior of silver foxes on a fur farm. The foxes were housed in small and unkempt cages and then killed and dissected.
In the US, these experiments likely wouldn’t be legal under the guidelines the government has for using animals during experiments, which include providing proper veterinary care, using appropriate anesthetics to minimize harm and using humane euthanasia methods.
Following the WCW Project’s findings, the group was successful in getting the Biden administration to defund all animal labs in Russia earlier this year. However, animal experiments using American money have continued in China.
Shi Zhengli – dubbed the ‘Bat Lady’ or ‘Bat Woman’ for her work on bat coronaviruses – is pictured in a Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. She hunted down dozens of deadly Covid-like viruses in bat caves and studied them at the WIV
Alive and dead rabbits for sale at a market in China in 2020. As part of experiments in between 2015 and 2018, researchers collected avian flu viruses from China’s wet markets and injected them into guinea pigs, mice, chickens, and ducks
A woman removes flies from the meat at a meat stall in a market in Guangzhou in June 2020. Between 2015 and 2018, researchers performed experiments to supercharge flu viruses collected from China’s wet markets
The act was first introduced in 2021 by McClain and has since gained support from other House members, as well as gotten the attention of members of the Senate. Now, it is being reintroduced in Congress. The legislation would prevent the NIH from conducting or supporting all research on vertebrate animals in foreign countries.
Vertebrate animals are those with spinal cords and bony or cartilaginous backbones, including all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
‘Our tax dollars should never be sent to state-run labs in adversary nations like Russia and China that threaten our national security.
‘My AFAR Act would prohibit tax dollars from being shipped to animal testing labs in any countries that are deemed foreign adversaries’, McClain said in a statement.
Recent data compiled by the WCW Project found that between 2015 and 2023, at least seven US entities supplied a portion of their NIH grant money to labs in China performing animal experiments, totaling more than $3.3 million.
Between 2015 and 2018, Emory University provided Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, which houses one of China’s dangerous high-containment bioagent labs, $515,418 of a $38.6 million Health and Human Services contract for experiments on avian flu viruses.
Researchers collected avian flu viruses from China’s wet markets and injected them into guinea pigs, mice, chickens, and ducks. Taxpayer money was also used to supercharge flu viruses, making them more transmissible. The animals were later killed and dissected.
The study continued through July 2022, years into the Covid pandemic, despite concerns about the origins of the pandemic.
In addition to providing funds to Kremlin-backed labs, the University of Illinois also supplied the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai in 2017 with $149,832 of its $1.7 million NIH grant to infect mice with tuberculosis. The mice were killed after 50 days and had their lungs dissected.
The research ended in 2019.
From 2017 to 2018, the University of South Florida shipped more than $812,900 of a $28.9 million grant it was awarded from the NIH to several Chinese entities to create mutant malaria strains and inject them into mice. The mice were then fed to mosquitoes.
The White Coat Waste Project found white rabbits housed in cages at the Wuhan Animal Lab
The White Coat Waste Project uncovered silver foxes being kept in cages on an experimental Russian farm
The research is set to continue until March 2024.
In 2019, Eastern Virginia Medical School sent $42,452 of a $35.5 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development to the Qichun County Zhangliang Digging Machine Business Department. The funds were used to test an experimental hepatitis and HIV drug on primates.
According to a description from USA Spending, which compiles information on grants, the study states that primates will be given a ‘treatment’ and then have their plasma analyzed.
The research ran until November 2021.
Also in 2019, the University of California-Irvine gave $216,000 of a $4.3 million NIH grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to perform experiments related to neuronal tracing. Experiments included drilling holes in the skulls of mice, rats, and tree shrews and injecting herpes viruses into their brains. The study states there was ‘rapid death of injected animals’ and viral infections.
It only recently concluded in January.
With one of the largest amounts supplied to Chinese animal experiment labs, the late Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen’s Allen Institute sent nearly $1 million of its $64.7 million NIH grant to China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 2021. The study, which only ended in January, was to create an atlas of mouse brain cells. Researchers killed and sliced the brains of eight-week-old mice to analyze and map them.
As recent as February 2023, the University of Southern California funneled more than $576,400 of its $1.9 million NIH grant to Peking University for experiments in which mice had holes drilled into their skulls and viruses injected into their brains. Scientists inserted electrodes in the animals’ brains and performed imaging experiments.
The research is set to run until 2025.
While the watchdog group revealed the millions of dollars being sent overseas, Americans may never know the exact amount or the specific experiments being conducted because of an NIH loophole exempting foreign grant recipients from following certain animal care guidelines. The WCW Project is currently suing the institution over this loophole.
In a statement, senior vice president of the WCW Project, Justin Goodman said ‘shipping taxpayer dollars to animal testing labs in China, Russia and other adversarial nations is a recipe for disaster.
‘Our Worldwide Waste campaign has defunded the Wuhan lab, Putin’s kitten tests, and all Russian animal labs, but we’ve uncovered how dozens of animal labs in China are still eligible for more taxpayer money. Over 70 percent of taxpayers—Republicans and Democrats alike—oppose this reckless spending … Stop the money. Stop the madness’.