Sunday's New York Times features an exposé on the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. This organization's purpose is to conduct scientific experiments on cows, pigs and lambs in order to aid the meat industry in coming up with more effective ways to raise these animals. The Animal Welfare Act (1966) limits cruelty to experimental subjects but, in the words of reporter Michael Moss, leaves "a gaping exemption: farm animals used in research to benefit agriculture."
The conditions and experiments done at the facility are nothing short of horrifying; I refer readers to the article for the well-reported but grisly details. Moreover, no one at the center seems to care much for the welfare of the animals. The Times review of 850 experimental protocols shows that the words "profit" or "production efficiency" appear 111 times while "pain" was found only twice.
I don't know why the meat industry cannot fund its own research. But if the federal government is going to be doing research on animals in our name, I, for one, want these experiments done in the most humane way possible. The loophole in the Animal Welfare Act needs to be closed.