July 20, 2023

Senators Schmitt, Merkley Introduce the Worldwide Animal Testing Compliance and Harmonization (WATCH) Act of 2023

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Eric Schmitt (R-MO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Worldwide Animal Testing Compliance and Harmonization (WATCH) Act of 2023 in order to ensure the United States of America is not funding risky research on animals in unregulated foreign laboratories.

“COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the world, and likely came from an unregulated foreign laboratory partially funded by The United States. Outsourcing testing and research to unregulated foreign laboratories is a recipe for disaster. The WATCH Act implements commonsense guardrails to America’s funding of foreign labs – ensuring each and every dollar spent on research is done through humane and safe standards with ample transparency,” said Senator Eric Schmitt.  

“Animal cruelty has no place in our society, period,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “NIH should only invest in ethically sound organizations. This bill will ensure laboratories around the world are held to the same animal welfare standards and requirements as domestic laboratories when conducting research and testing on animals.” 


  • The WATCH Act:
    • Requires foreign laboratories to meet the same animal welfare requirements as domestic laboratories to qualify for NIH funds.
    • Foreign labs must submit to quarterly site inspections to ensure their continued compliance with animal welfare requirements.
  • The NIH provides $220 million per year in grants to foreign organizations for research projects involving animals.
  • Unchecked animal testing in foreign nations often contributes to the formation and propagation of new diseases.
  • U.S. labs conducting research involving live animal subjects require proper care for animal subjects, clean cages, and on-site veterinarians. There are no such requirements for foreign labs.
  • Senator Schmitt also previously co-sponsored Senator Marshall’s bill to ban viral gain-of-function research. 

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