A U.S. Department of Agriculture program in which controversial research used cats in experimentation has ended, according to a USDA news release issued Tuesday.
"The use of cats as part of any research protocol in any ARS [Agricultural Research Service] laboratory has been discontinued and will not be reinstated," the release states.
A report issued in March by the White Coat Waste Project helped shed light on the experimenting: It said hundreds of cats and dogs were purchased from "Asian meat markets". The taxpayer watchdog group reported scientists at the USDA's lab in Beltsville, Maryland were feeding dog remains to cats and injecting cat remains into mice.
WCWP released ts report to Congress with the title, "USDA Kitten Cannibalism."
Its main contention was that cats and dogs were bought from the same Asian markets condemned in a House resolution . The legislation was aimed at stopping animal killings for science experimentation by the USDA.
Congress members on both sides of the aisle called the practice disturbing and said there are more humane ways to do research with animals. White Coast Waste Project is concerned with the animal cannibalism and questioned the necessity of it for research.
Cats are especially used in experimentation because they can host parasites that cause Toxoplasmosis , one of the leading food-borne illnesses in the U.S. that causes human deaths.
Toxoplasmosis is targeted by the Centers for Disease Control for public health action. Forty million Americans are believed to carry the parasite without issue, NBC News says, but exposure to people who are pregnant is where the greatest risk lies.