Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance’s connection to a preclinical contract research organization that reportedly tests medication and vaccines on animals may impact his reputation with voters ahead of midterm elections.
Vance is a former Marine who wrote the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy about his upbringing in Kentucky and Ohio. He and Democrat Tim Ryan are currently tied in the polls, according to the Spectrum News/Siena College Poll.
A graduate of Ohio State University and Yale Law School, Vance went on to found the venture capitalist firm Narya.
On Oct. 25, Rolling Stone released a report detailing Vance’s connection to AmplifyBio through his personal stockholdings and through Narya. The biotech start-up “has been lauded in the local press as part of Ohio’s transition from rust-belt decay to high-tech rebirth” by “testing experimental drugs developed by other companies” on dogs, monkeys and other animals, according to the outlet.
“The research conducted at AmplifyBio also calls into question if Vance’s far-right religious values end where his profit motive begins,” reports Rolling Stone. “AmplifyBio tests cell therapies and other drugs that are likely derived from stem cell lines, including those recovered from aborted fetuses or live embryos. Such stem cell research drives vital innovation in modern health care, but it is anathema to those on the religious right who contend that life begins at conception.”
The company denied using stem cells when contacted by the outlet.
On July 27, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture cited the company for failing to protect a monkey from injury. The animal died after escaping its cage and becoming stuck. The USDA noted its inspection found 120 adult dogs, 21 rabbits, 163 cynomolgus monkeys, and 5 rhesus macaques.
Vance, a convert to Catholicism, has taken a partial leave of absence from Narya while campaigning for the Senate. During his run for office, his firm’s connection to a high-tech indoor farming company that is being sued has also gained some public attention.
Five lawsuits filed against AppHarvest accused the Kentucky-based company of misrepresenting hiring and retention numbers and misleading investors. AppHarvest has called the lawsuits baseless.
Vance is not named in any of the lawsuits, which were all filed after he left the company’s board in April of 2021, per Fox News.
Vance’s campaign has not responded to Rolling Stone’s report.
A Gallup poll in 2017 found that 51% of American adults believe medical testing on animals was acceptable while 44% said the practice was unacceptable. The findings marked a significant shift from 2004 when 62% of American adults believed medical testing on animals was morally acceptable.
“This finding is not completely surprising — medical testing can include researching cures for deadly diseases such as AIDS and cancer, and many people may believe that animals’ lives are worth the sacrifice,” Gallup noted in 2004.
As part of its 2017 report, Gallup reported that young adults’ opinion of medical testing on animals is leading a larger cultural shift.
The poll found “fifty-nine percent of Americans aged 50 and older believe medical testing on animals is morally acceptable, compared with 45% of those younger than 50.”