Univ. of Utah ordered to release animal research records

TheUniversity of Utah must release details of research proposals involvingexperiments on animals under a Jan. 15 ruling by the state open-recordsagency.

The Utah Records Committee ordered the university in Salt LakeCity to hand over the documents, often called “research protocols,” toanimal-rights activist and University of Utah freshman JeremyBeckham.

However, the committee said that certain “proprietaryinformation” could be kept confidential. The panel gave the university the powerto decide what information to withhold, or redact, and how much Beckham shouldpay for the work in providing the documents.

Beckham said he was worriedthe university could use that power to conceal the information hewants.

Beckham said he requested the documents to publicize theuniversity’s treatment of primates in taxpayer-funded research by publishingthem on his Web site, www.primatefreedom.org.

Phyllis Vetter, theuniversity’s attorney, insisted that the University of Utah’s treatment ofanimals conforms to all state and federal regulations and that all animals are”used in a humane and appropriate manner.”

The research protocols Beckhamrequested include detailed information about the nature, method and prospectiveuses of the research. The documents often specify the use of experimental drugsand procedures, which the university argues should be kept out of the hands ofcompetitors until after the research is completed. Scientists use the documentsto secure government funding of their research projects.

“Without thisinformation, you can’t know the nitty-gritty details of their animal care,”Beckham said. “I don’t trust them to tell me they are treating their animalsright, I want to find out for myself.”