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Citizens urged to help stop use of animals in chemical safety tests

Ahead of World Day for Laboratory Animals on April 24th, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is urging citizens to support modern research methods that could stop the use of thousands of animals in chemical safety tests in the United States. The public has until April 26th to comment on a proposed Strategic Plan published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “reduce and replace” animal-based toxicity tests.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “This is an opportunity to help spare animals from suffering in painful safety tests. Please spare a little time, this World Day for Laboratory Animals, to support advanced research methods that are better for animals and people.”

Passed in Congress in June 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act instructs the EPA to “reduce and replace” animal-based toxicity testing and to promote, develop, and incorporate non-animal alternatives, where possible. The amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) specifically requires the EPA to develop a Strategic Plan by June 22, 2018, to reduce and replace the use of vertebrate animals in testing. The EPA is now inviting comment on its draft Strategic Plan, the deadline for which is April 26, 2018. For further details and ADI guidance on how to take part see

Although the EPA has stated that the elimination of vertebrate animal testing is an achievable goal, it claims that “it is not possible to identify a time-frame” when such tests will be eliminated. ADI calls on the EPA to commit to a timetable for ending such experiments, following the examples of countries such as the Netherlands, where a phaseout of the use of animals in regulatory safety testing by 2025 has been proposed.

To accelerate their development and use, ADI is urging that education and training in advanced non-animal methods be supported, with funding directed away from animal use and the process for validating new technologies simplified. To educate researchers and encourage the use of non-animal methods, issues with animal models must be acknowledged.

The fundamental flaw of using animals for safety testing, and other forms of research, is species differences. With each species responding differently to substances – with an animal’s age, diet, sex, and even bedding material also affecting results – animal tests can never reliably predict potential human effects. As a result they can delay scientific progress and lead to human tragedy.

During safety tests animals may have substances forced down their throats and into their stomachs through a rubber hose; dogs used in such tests have been documented suffering foaming at the mouth, vomiting, bleeding from the gums, and diarrhea.

Latest figures (for 2016) indicate that more than 800,000 animals are used in scientific research in the US, including 71,188 primates (a 15% increase on the year before), 60,979 dogs, 18,898 cats, and 139,391 rabbits. The use of birds and rodents, for which authorization is not required, are excluded from the official statistics so the total number of animals used is likely to run into the millions. By comparison, nearly 4 million animals of many species, are used in experiments in the UK. The estimated global use is at least 115.3 million animals.

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