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March 2, 2010

A Pathway to End Animal Testing

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to make the reduction of animal testing a top priority

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and rats are used in tests ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency. iStock.com

Editor's note: This piece was adapated with permission from the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Many animal welfare problems can be solved through innovation. It was the invention of the combustible engine and the automobile which made the horse-drawn carriage obsolete. It has been the development of warm and elegant faux fur fabrics that has given consumers and designers alternatives to animal fur in the marketplace. Immunocontraceptive vaccines can be used to manage wild populations of horses and elephants, obviating the need for round-ups and culling.

It’s with this same spirit of ingenuity and creative thinking that we will see an end to animal testing for consumer and household products in our lifetime. Major corporations are putting millions of dollars into developing non-animal tests so that alternatives are available. Procter & Gamble, the American Chemistry Council, and The Humane Society of the United States are sponsoring AltTox.org, a web site dedicated to advancing non-animal methods of toxicity testing.

Federal lawmakers and agency officials are taking action as well. Last year, Congress approved a $4 million increase for computational toxicology alternatives in the 2010 appropriations bill funding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, and included language promoting “acceptance of alternatives” as part of the bill funding the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. EPA is also embracing the vision for 21st century toxicology by investing in new scientific methods for risk assessment and by collaborating with other federal agencies to ultimately eliminate traditional animal tests.

We have a pathway to solve this issue, but more needs to be done. EPA has shown great leadership in advancing alternatives, but the agency still expressly requires that certain products—such as weed killers, insecticides, and germ-killing cleansers—be tested on animals in order to be sold in the United States. Dogs, rabbits, rodents, and other animals are used by the thousands in force-feeding, inhalation, and “lethal dose” tests that can cause pain, distress, and death.

EPA can move the ball forward by revising its pesticide regulations to streamline testing requirements, eliminate redundancies and duplicative tests, implement all available, scientifically valid alternative methods, and make full use of existing test results rather than require additional testing on animals. Please contact EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today, and urge her to make the reduction of animal testing a top priority for the agency.

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