U says animal testing secrecy accusations ‘lack merit’

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg denied claims that the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee violated the state’s open records and open meetings laws.

Amanda Bankston


A lawsuit filed by animal rights activists accusing the University of Minnesota of animal testing secrecy “lacks merit,” according to a statement released Thursday by University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg.

The suit, filed last week by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Minneapolis resident Isaac Peter, alleges the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee has been violating the state’s open records and open meetings laws by denying access to committee meetings and withholding requested records.

But Rotenberg denied all accusations made against the University.

The complaint cites requests for access from ALDF and Peter ranging from early 2007 to Oct. 29 of this year. Among these were requests for meeting access, emails mentioning IACUC and the University’s public access procedures.

In the statement, Rotenberg said Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law applies to the University’s Board of Regents and its committees, not to the IACUC — a committee that reviews all University research involving animals.

He also denies the University’s alleged refusal to fulfill data requests, saying “the University has been processing ALDF’s request — gathering hundreds of documents from numerous sources across the University and reviewing them for public disclosure.”

The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International recently renewed the University’s full accreditation, according to a Nov. 9 release from the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

The release said AAALAC “commended the university for providing and maintaining a high-quality program of laboratory animal care and use.”