Feds Were Buying Cats from Chinese Wet Markets, Fed Them to American Cats for Research: Report


Do you find your stomach turning when you think of the treatment and handling of domestic animals, and the apparent disregard for sanitation, at China’s now-infamous wet markets?

According to one report, you may have been providing those markets financial assistance for many years.

A March 2019 report from the White Coat Waste Project — a watchdog group that wants to “drain the swamp” by ending federal spending on projects that use dogs, monkeys, cats and other animals as guinea pigs — revealed that U.S. taxpayer funding went to these repulsive centers for death and disease.

And it gets worse.

According to the the report, U.S. government researchers had been conducting “kitten cannibalism” experiments — spending taxpayer dollars to buy cats and other animals from Chinese wet markets and then feeding their tissue to kittens in the U.S.

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The practice had apparently gone on for some time, too.

“Since 1982, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has conducted, and continues to perform, toxoplasmosis experiments on cats,” the report said.

“The currently approved protocol for this project calls for up to 100 kittens to be bred each year at ARS’s Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory (APDL) in Beltsville, Maryland. At eight weeks old, the kittens are fed raw meat infected with the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, and their feces is collected for up to 3 weeks so experimenters can harvest oocysts (eggs) for use in food safety experiments. These healthy kittens — who briefly pass the parasite’s eggs and become immune within weeks — are then killed and incinerated by USDA because they are no longer useful.”

That’s where the wet markets come in.

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“In addition to the cats USDA breeds and kills itself, for at least a decade — and as recently as 2015 — the same ARS experimenters purchased and killed hundreds of pet, stray or ‘unwanted’ cats (and dogs) from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” the report said.

“Particularly troubling is that some of these cats and dogs were purchased by the USDA from meat markets the some of the same Asian countries (China and Vietnam) that U.S. Congress roundly condemned for their dog and cat meat trades.”

The foreign cats’ tissues, the White Coat Waste Project said, were then fed to the USDA’s lab-bred cats.

It remains to be seen how many American dollars were spent at such markets, though the report said the entire project cost $650,000 a year.

The tongues, brains and hearts from at least 34 cats purchased at a Chinese meat market were fed to U.S. cats, the watchdog group said.

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One specific instance was particularly troubling.

As The Washington Times reported: “White Coat managed to obtain documents detailing a cat ‘menu’ from 2006 detailing the ‘donor’ cats that were purchased and then reduced to ‘serum, heart, feces, brain’ and other parts, which were brought to the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, where they were fed to ‘recipient’ cats.”

It’s worth noting that after the report came out, the USDA said it would end all cat experiments and adopt out the 14 cats still alive at its Maryland facility.

Moreover, the agency has insisted it never bought any live animals from Chinese meat markets, or any specimens at all after 2006.

“USDA never purchased live animals, including cats and dogs, from Chinese meat markets. USDA did not purchase any feline specimens from wet markets in Wuhan, China. USDA’s last purchase of feline specimens from China was in 2006 at the Changban Free Market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province,” a USDA spokesperson told the Washington Examiner this month.

“USDA did not pay for any animals to be slaughtered for research at Chinese meat markets. USDA only purchased feline specimens that were slaughtered by Chinese market vendors for food in accordance with People’s Republic of China laws.”

Still, the report now has new relevance, for obvious reasons.

While it is being determined if the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a Wuhan wet market, or a virology lab in the area, wet markets have become a hot topic of discussion in recent months.

Justin Goodman, vice president for advocacy at White Coat Waste Project, told The Times the markets put human lives at risk, and called out the federal government for playing a role in supporting them.

“This kind of reckless taxpayer-funded research involving disgusting wet markets — which even are known to sell experimental lab animals for consumption — put animal, human and global health in grave danger and has to be prevented in the future,” Goodman said.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is also now leading the charge in Congress to ensure that American dollars are never again spent at Chinese wet markets, or used to fund Chinese virology research. (It was reported earlier this month that China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology received a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. government.)

“While previous administrations should have been working to shut down these dangerous, disease-prone markets, they were subsidizing them with taxpayer money,” the Republican said in a statement on her Senate website.

“That’s why I’m working across the aisle to prevent any more American tax dollars from going to China’s unregulated ‘supermarkets of sickness.’”

“Whether it’s the lab in Wuhan or these repulsive wet markets, Iowans shouldn’t be footing the bill for either, Ernst said.

Ernst is 100 percent right. American taxpayers should never have been funding these sorts of things in the first place.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.