May 21, 2012
EPA's Reductions in Pesticide Animal Testing Requirements Welcomed
Scientists from Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups are pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will reduce animal testing requirements for pesticides. The policy changes announced by EPA in a May 2012 letter to HSI follow a recent move by the European Union to scale back its requirements for animal testing of non-food pesticides by up to 40 percent.
“Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States welcome the EPA’s recent animal testing policy as a step in the right direction, but urges the agency to go further to bring U.S. pesticide regulations into line with the global scientific state-of-the-art and best practices concerning replacement, reduction and refinement of animal testing,” said Kate Willett, director of regulatory testing at The Humane Society of the United States. “Even though EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs has been more responsive than other U.S. regulatory offices to concerns about using outdated testing methods that require animals, it has so far embraced only a small handful of available animal testing alternatives.”
EPA regulations currently prescribe as many as two dozen different laboratory poisoning tests to evaluate the toxicity of a single new pesticide chemical, which can involve the use of approximately 10,000 dogs, rodents, rabbits, fish, birds and other animals.
EPA’s letter confirms the implementation of the following HSI recommendations:
- Elimination of accumulation testing in fish for certain chemicals.
- Agreement to allow combining two repeat-dose studies that will save more than 80 animals for every pesticide tested using this approach.
- Agreement to adopt a 50 percent animal-reduction approach for skin allergy testing, both for finished pesticide products as well as their raw ingredients.
- Establishment of a new committee to evaluate company requests to waive animal tests in order to ensure consistency in decision making in granting such waivers.
HSI and The HSUS continue to urge EPA to abandon animal testing requirements for single-dose lethal skin tests and mouse cancer tests, which have been shown to be without regulatory value in most instances; animal skin irritation tests, which can be fully replaced by non-animal approaches; and animal testing of finished products in general, which in many cases can be replaced with conservative mathematical calculation approaches.