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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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U.S. to Crack Down on Animal Terrorists
14 November 2006 (All day)
The U.S. Congress has passed a measure that is expected to make it much easier to prosecute animal-rights activists who target enterprises that deal with animals. Research groups immediately hailed the measure, called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, as a milestone in protecting science, while animal activists warned that it labels peaceful demonstrators as terrorists.
The House of Representatives approved the act yesterday by a voice vote, following similar action by the Senate in September. The bill tightens provisions in the existing Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992, which made it a federal offense to interfere with the conduct of "animal enterprises" from university labs to slaughterhouses to circuses. The new measure extends that protection to anyone targeted by activists because they do business with an animal enterprise, including accountants and suppliers. It also calls for reimbursement for economic damages caused to such entities. Offenders will face fines or jail terms ranging from 1 year to life for various forms of harrassment and intimidation, including property damage, trespassing, and death threats.
The bill is largely a response to the tactics of a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). Active in both the U.K. and the U.S., SHAC has for years targeted U.K.-based Huntingdon Life Sciences, which uses animals to test drugs, food additives, and pesticides. Last year, SHAC reportedly intimidated the New York Stock Exchange into declining to list Huntingdon's parent company, New Jersey-based Life Sciences Research.
Research groups exulted over passage of the bill. FASEB, a coalition of biology groups, called it a "momentous step." Frankie L. Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research, predicted that the new law will counter "the climate of fear that presently surrounds medical discovery and the research enterprise."
Activists believe that the measure is too restrictive, however. The Humane Society of the United States says that the law will criminalize as terrorism "a broad range of lawful, constitutionally protected, and valuable activity," including demonstrations that block the doors of a facility and cause it to lose money.
President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.