Texas Biomed Withdraws Bond Funding Request Amid Animal Welfare Protests
After hearing objections to its animal research, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute withdrew its request for funding from the city’s 2022 bond package on Thursday.
Texas Biomed, located in District 6, originally requested $ 11 million in bonds to fund infrastructure on its campus. The research center provided that number after consulting with city staff, President and CEO Larry Schlesinger said Thursday afternoon in a letter to Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Manager Erik Walsh.
A citizens’ committee tasked with recommending bail projects for facilities to city council approved 16 projects on Thursday and kept the public art pledge at 1.5%, bringing the total bond to 134 million of dollars. The projects included municipal facilities and public security buildings such as a proposed police station in District 3, priced at $ 19 million.
Voters will see a total of six bond proposals in the May ballot, bringing the total to $ 1.2 billion. The citizens’ committees overseeing the recommendations for streets, parks, drainage and the first-ever housing bond proposal have already finalized their project lists.
The written comments submitted to the facilities committee were primarily aimed at Texas Biomed’s request, urging committee members to remove the project from its list of recommendations. Many have copied and pasted the same comment, saying primates at Texas Biomed are not receiving basic care and that a primate research center designed to study infectious disease in San Antonio is a ‘biosecurity threat’ .
In his letter on Thursday, Schlesinger supported Texas Biomed’s procedures and research.
“We regret that there has been a vocal minority who misinformed and misrepresented the work we do and denigrated our ethical, benevolent and nationally recognized animal research program,” he wrote. “As has been said before, the international scientific community recognizes that animal research is absolutely necessary to understand and advance human health, and is required by the FDA for preclinical testing of new therapies and vaccines. Texas Biomed conducts this research in a safe, compassionate, and regulated environment. “
A spokesperson for Texas Biomed thanked city staff and city council for supporting their bail request.
“However, we recognize that the committee must consider many competing priorities, so we decided it was best to work with the city on alternative funding options for the Institute’s infrastructure project and withdrew our deposit request “, Lisa Cruz, vice president of communications, said in a statement.
With the $ 11 million released, committee members voted to invest $ 10 million in a new fire station in District 5 and $ 1 million in a new meals-on-wheels facility in San Antonio.
While $ 10 million will not fund an entire new fire station, City Councilor Teri Castillo (D5) has said she will seek the $ 2.5 million still needed to build one. The proposed fire station would replace a former fire station facing problems with heating, electricity and inadequate bathrooms for female firefighters.
City council will hear the draft recommendations from the bond committees in January and finalize the list in February.