Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to eliminate the practice of animal testing on mammals by 2035.
A memorandum outlining the organization’s goals was signed this month by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who also made a statement on the matter.
“Today’s memo directs the agency to aggressively reduce animal testing, including reducing mammal study requests and funding 30% by 2025 and completely eliminating them by 2035,” it reads.
“We are also awarding $4.25 million to advance the research and development of alternative test methods for evaluating the safety of chemicals that will minimize, and hopefully eliminate, the need for animal testing.”
The funding will be distributed between five US universities.
“I was very surprised. I did not expect such a strong position.”
The other four schools include Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Oregon State University and University of California Riverside.
The move has also been applauded by Ann Bartuska, Vice President of nonprofit Resources for the Future and former US Department of Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary.
“It’s a very major step that I think will have an impact on other federal agencies,” she said.
While some have questioned whether the chemical lobby may have had a hand in ending the costly tests, Wheeler maintains that he was not lobbied before making the decision. He has said also that animal testing has long been an important issue to him — noting he wrote an op-ed on the topic for his college newspaper in 1987.
“This is the most comprehensive and aggressive plan in U.S. history to cut government animal testing,” he added.
“I think it’s going to be the gold standard for other agencies.”
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New Approaches And Alternatives To Animal Testing
The EPA will hold annual conferences on “new approach methods” beginning this year, making it the first government regulatory agency to move toward a non-animal testing model.
Possible alternatives include computer program technologies and the “organ-on-a chip” technology — a method which uses a collection of cells designed to mimic entire organs.
Animal advocacy organizations have fought for these changes for decades — PETA inclusive. Dr. Amy Clippinger, Director of the organization’s Regulatory Testing Department, was there to witness the signing of the memorandum and has applauded the move.
“PETA is celebrating the EPA’s decision to protect animals certainly, but also humans and the environment, by switching from cruel and scientifically flawed animal tests in favor of modern, non-animal testing methods,” she said.
What do you think about this new directive? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.