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November 4, 2010

Symposium Will Help Make Animal Testing Obsolete

  • Mice, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, and rats are the most common animals used in cosmetic and product testing. iStockphoto.com

Picture this: A scientist using sophisticated robots, computer models, and human cells to test how safe a chemical is for consumers.

You might have thought that—with all of our technological advances—this is how potentially harmful substances found in cosmetics, household cleaners, and other products are currently tested in the Untied States.

You would be wrong.

A revolution in testing

The most common way substances are tested is still by forcibly administering them to animals and then monitoring the animals' reactions. Not only is this process outdated, it's also costly, inefficient, and inhumane.

An alternative approach to testing proposed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences would bring the current methods into the 21st century—by using modern technology instead of animals to achieve better safeguarding of human health and a massive reduction—if not full replacement—of animal use. Scientists will also be able to test substances more rapidly and inexpensively.

Turning ideas into reality

Bringing this vision to fruition will require nothing less than a sustained, coordinated research effort.

The HSUS has taken the first step by spearheading the formation of the Human Toxicology Project Consortium. Consortium members include Dow, DuPont, ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, L'Orѐal, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Humane Society International. The Consortium is also partnered with the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing.

But other interested stakeholders in government, industry, academic and nonprofit sectors need to step up and help fund, carry out, and coordinate the necessary research.

Meeting of the minds

To move that agenda forward, The Human Toxicology Project Consortium is coordinating a high-level gathering in Washington, D.C., November 9-10 to discuss ongoing research projects that advance the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' vision as well as what can be done to accelerate progress.

Speakers at the symposium, "Accelerating Implementation of the NRC Vision for Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century," will include representatives from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration; prominent scientific organizations; major chemical, pharmaceutical, and consumer product corporations; nonprofit agencies; and the  Human Toxicology Project Consortium.

The HSUS and The Human Toxicology Consortium are hopeful that by continuing to pursue these efforts, and with your help, animal testing will one day be a thing of the past.

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