Written by Jeff Mackey
A chemical-testing program put in place by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) in 1998 had the potential to cost millions of animals their
lives in laboratory tests. But as a newly published review by PETA scientists
shows, a fraction of that number were used after PETA reached an agreement with
the EPA that established groundbreaking guidelines for the project.
Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program was developed in closed-door meetings with the American Chemistry Council and
the Environmental Defense
Fund and was launched without any public review or comment—but it didn't escape PETA's
After months of discussions, congressional testimony, and
public education tactics—including sending a giant "bunny" to follow
then–presidential candidate and chief HPV supporter Al Gore on the campaign
trail—PETA reached a historic deal with the Clinton administration that
resulted in the EPA's issuing guidance on reducing animal use to participating chemical companies.
As the program dragged on for more than a decade, either
PETA or the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine reviewed and commented on
every test plan in which animal tests were proposed in order to ensure
adherence to the guidance.
PETA scientists' review of the HPV program has now been published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal of the National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental
Health Perspectives. The review shows that animal welfare guidance was
inconsistently applied by both chemical companies and the EPA. 127,000
animals were used throughout the program—a heartbreaking toll, yet a much
smaller number than the 3.5 million who would have been killed in a worst-case
Grouping similar chemicals and submitting existing test data
saved the largest number of animals. Combining tests, using the weight of
existing evidence and experience, and replacing animal tests with modern, superior non-animal
methods further reduced the number of animals used.
While the agreement that PETA secured in the HPV program
saved millions of lives and represented an important step forward, inflicting unnecessary suffering and a
miserable death on even one animal is unacceptable.
PETA won't rest until laboratory experiments on animals are consigned to the history
books—and you can help
make that happen!
Written by PETA
Update: PETA has just received more good news for animals in laboratories: Tox21, an ongoing collaboration
among the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health,
and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will use a high-speed robotic
screening system—not animals—to test 10,000 chemicals for toxicity. This switch
will prevent countless animals from suffering in painful and antiquated tests.
Could the government actually be moving into the 21st century on this issue?
The below was originally posted December 15, 2011
The scientists in our Regulatory Testing Division
always appreciate PETA supporters who respond to their (ahem) somewhat technical action alerts. And they especially
appreciate the more than 25,000 of you who responded over the past year to our alert calling on the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to use non-animal methods to reduce the numbers
of animals to be killed in the agency's massive endocrine-disruptor screening program
your efforts paid off, and the EPA issued a statement pledging to implement
changes to the EDSP that have the potential to save more than 3 million animals!
The EPA's new work plan, EDSP21, will use non-animal methods such as computer models and
tests known as "high-throughput
assays." In issuing
EDSP21, the EPA stated that by incorporating advances in computational
modeling, molecular biology, and toxicology, "EPA will prioritize and
screen chemicals with greater speed, efficiency, and accuracy, while minimizing
the use of laboratory animals."
PETA's scientists worked exhaustively over the past five years
to push the EPA in this direction by publishing op-eds; submitting legal
petitions, technical comments, and testimony; lobbying; and making
presentations at conferences and workshops. Six months ago, PETA published an article in a scientific journal and provided the EPA with
a clear pathway that is strikingly similar to what the EPA is now planning to implement.
The EPA's current EDSP program requires the use of
approximately 500 animals per chemical screened for potential interaction with
the endocrine system. Since the EPA has estimated that there are between 6,000
and 9,700 chemicals to be prioritized and screened, the potential to save
animal lives is huge. PETA will, of course, remain hyper-vigilant to ensure
that the EPA follows through on this commitment.
We're also keeping
the pressure on Congress to end invasive experiments on chimpanzees and
retire all the federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries. You can now help get
chimpanzees out of laboratories and into sanctuaries by clicking here to urge your congressional representatives to pass the Great Ape
Protection and Cost Savings Act.
Written by Jessica Sandler
Congress is considering a bill to reform the way that this country tests and manages toxic chemicals, and PETA has submitted testimony.
Because the legislation seeks to require more chemical testing, it will lead to vastly increased suffering of animals in laboratories if it's passed. That's why it's vitally important that you tell your congressional representative to make sure that the final bill requires the use of modern, effective non-animal research methods and scraps cruel and archaic chemical tests on animals.
The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, H.R. 5820, incorporates some major reforms. Even though the EPA has acknowledged that non-animal testing methods provide more accurate results, the current bill would force the agency to run plans to implement non-animal tests by a committee of government officials that is widely recognized as a major obstacle to the development and use of new non-animal methods in the U.S. We need reform, but it must be the right kind of reform—change that improves public safety and protects animals against unnecessary suffering.
Animals in laboratories have no time to lose—please speak up right now to save their lives!
I have good news and, well, not-so-good news. The good news is that as a result of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to pay closer attention to all the factory-farm manure that often spills into our waterways.
The not-so-good news is that the EPA plans to rely on factory farms to provide the data that the agency needs—every five years. The farms will be expected to disclose, among other things, information about their manure-storage facilities and how the "excess manure" is disposed of. In other words, the EPA is letting the fox guard the henhouse.
It's good that the EPA is doing something. But I have more faith in people like Goldman Environmental Prize–winner Lynn Henning, who gathers water samples and uses aerial photography to help hold factory farms accountable for mucking up our rivers and streams. Her efforts can really make a difference—and so can you by reminding people that farms cater to consumers. If there were no demand for flesh, eggs, or milk, then there would be no problem. So here's to a different kind of report: our success in encouraging people to help preserve America's waterways by going vegan.
Try passing out a copy of our vegetarian/vegan starter kit at your nearest stream!
Written by Heather Moore
Be proud, California: Thanks to your meat and dairy industries' "Happy Cows," you're number one … on the EPA's "fart chart." And you thought the Golden State was known only for its Hollywood beauties and killer vegan food.
Rounding out the top five in the bovine emissions sweepstakes are Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.
Animals raised for food fart and burp massive quantities of greenhouse gasses—so much so that they're a leading contributor to climate change. The EPA estimates that the nation's 170 million bovines, sheep, and pigs are responsible for one-quarter of the methane released in the U.S. each year.
Check out the "fart chart" to see how your state ranks. Then tell everyone you know what they can do to lower their emissions.
Written by Paula Moore
P.S. We're not going to raise a stink about the fact that the "fart chart" should really be called the "Burp-O-Meter."
The long-awaited Senate and House versions of the new Toxic Substances Control Act—which is intended to improve the way that hazardous substances are tested and regulated in the U.S.—have just been released. PETA's Regulatory Testing Division has been working tirelessly for years to make sure that animal testing is minimized in this bill.
For the past 30-plus years, chemicals have been tested on millions of animals—with very little to show for it. Reliance on animal-testing resultsâ€•which have been shown to be largely irrelevant to human health effectsâ€•has contributed to the ineffectiveness of past legislation in protecting humans and the environment from hazardous chemicals. Fortunately, recent advances in science and technology allow for more useful information to be gathered without extensive animal testing, and incorporation of these new approaches should be the foundation of any new legislation.
The newly introduced legislation incorporates a number of animal protection measures that we have been advocating, such as the following:
While both versions of this bill are headed in the right direction, further elements need to be clarified to ensure that animal use is minimized and eventually eliminated, and we will be working hard to do just that.
Incorporating these measures into the bill will improve the efficiency, speed, and accuracy of the tests, while cutting costs, preventing an enormous amount of animal suffering, and vastly increasing the EPA's ability to protect humans and the environment.
Stand by for ways that you can help.
Written by Alisa Mullins
The following post originally appeared in Florida's Bradenton Herald.
Who would you save—your child or your dog? This is the phony choice lobbed at those of us who advocate for the replacement of animal tests with non-animal testing methods. Fortunately, you don't have to choose.
Under pressure from citizens concerned about exposure to hazardous chemicals, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are now considering overhauling toxic-chemical regulations. In more than a decade—and despite killing many millions of animals in chemical toxicity tests—the EPA has failed abysmally to safeguard the public by pulling dangerous substances off the market. The examples are legion and well documented.
For instance, the link between benzene—a gasoline component and solvent widely used in the preparation of drugs and plastics—and human leukemia was established as early as 1928, yet dozens of subsequent animal studies failed to replicate benzene's cancer-causing effects. Only during the late 1980s were researchers finally able to induce cancer in animals by overdosing them with benzene—and our government is still testing benzene on animals.
Exposure to arsenic has been implicated in increased cancer risk for nearly 150 years. Smelter workers exposed to arsenic in the air are at higher risk for developing lung cancer, and population studies show that arsenic in drinking water can also cause cancer. Yet regulation was delayed for decades while thousands of animals were killed in experiments that attempted to reproduce the effects already seen in humans. Reviews published as late as 1977 reported that animal experiments had failed to produce evidence supporting a link between arsenic exposure and increased cancer risk. It was not until the late 1980s that researchers finally succeeded in reproducing the cancer-causing effects of arsenic in animals.
Updating our chemical management laws is important for protecting human health and the environment. But in order to be effective, we must acknowledge that the current way of testing chemicals for toxic effects uses methods that are decades old, condemns thousands of animals per chemical and provides information that is not very useful for regulating chemicals. Much has happened in the fields of biology and toxicology in the past few decades, and it is imperative that we use all of our current understanding and technology to test chemicals. In addition to providing more relevant and useful information, the modern methods also use many fewer animals—perhaps even no animals.With tens of thousands of chemicals on the market and more entering it every day, it's now widely recognized, even by regulators, that "it is simply not possible with all the animals in the world to go through chemicals in the blind way we have at the present time, and reach credible conclusions about the hazards to human health" (Dr. Joshua Lederberg, Nobel laureate in medicine).
The National Academy of Sciences, the government's own scientific arm, released a report in 2007 confirming that scientific advances can "transform toxicity testing from a system based on whole-animal testing to one founded primarily on in vitro (non-animal) methods." Such an approach will improve efficiency, speed and prediction for humans while cutting costs and reducing animal suffering. Indeed, high-tech methods are the only way thousands of chemicals can be tested.
Any update of the laws regulating toxic chemicals must include measures to ensure that the most modern testing methods are used. It is critical that the science underlying chemical safety assessments be updated from the crude animal tests developed around the time of World War I to the 21st century technology that is now available. Without this shift in science, chemical management reform of the kind being proposed by the EPA and others is logistically impossible.
So, your child or your dog? We now can—and should—save both.
Written by Jessica Sandler, director of regulatory testing
Finally. After PETA has spent the past 10 years hammering away at the Environmental Protection Agency over its absurdly archaic, repetitive, and wasteful—not to mention cruel—chemical-toxicity tests on animals, the agency has at last released a strategic plan for improving toxicity testing that basically says, "Yeah, what PETA said."
OK, that's not exactly what it says, but the report is very encouraging, nonetheless. What it does say is that the current testing programs, which rely largely on animal tests, are costly, time-consuming, and basically not up to the task of accurately and adequately assessing the toxicity of tens of thousands of chemicals.
As the Boston Globe wrote just this week, even many researchers are now acknowledging that animal research "isn't even the best science" and that "[r]eplacing animals with human tissue has already proven to be [a] good business bet."
So, the EPA is now proposing a new "paradigm" that focuses on computer models, molecular biology, and cell cultures, using data from the human genome project, clinical trials, exposure assessments, and other technologies that the EPA calls "new"—even though many of them have been around for more than a decade now. Some of the technologies are even being developed at the EPA!
Here's a direct quote from the report: "The overall goal of this strategy is to provide the tools and approaches to move from a near exclusive use of animal tests for predicting human health effects to a process that relies more heavily on in vitro assays, especially those using human cell lines."
Can I hear an "Amen"?
The new EPA report is based on the findings of a National Research Council report released in 2007 that said essentially the same thing. This makes sense, because the EPA actually commissioned that report—though it's taken the agency nearly two years to evaluate the report's findings. What can we say? The wheels of justice grind slowly.
Now, if we can just get all parts of the EPA to act on its own report, we'll be getting somewhere. I say that because, just yesterday, PETA research associate Joe Manuppello testified at a hearing (which we called for) about proposed high production volume chemical tests that would kill another 10,000 animals. The proposed tests involve 15 chemicals, including sorbic acid (a naturally occurring fatty acid), castor oil, and oxalic acid, all of which are already known to be either safe or extremely toxic, based on years of experience and existing data from previous tests. At that hearing, we pointed out that the tests contradicted the EPA's own strategic plan as well as the basic animal welfare principles that the agency put into effect 10 years ago (under pressure from PETA). Those principles state that chemicals should not be retested if sufficient data already exist concerning the safety or toxicity of a chemical. According to all reports, the EPA officials found Joe's testimony riveting. (You have to wonder—if PETA can find the data, why can't the EPA? Is it just a matter of caring enough to find it?)
EPA, you're moving in the right direction. Now we just need all parts of your agency to walk the talk. Until you do, you can bet that we'll be pushing you every step of the way.
Courtesy of the good folks in PETA’s Regulatory Testing Division—who have been working behind the scenes with these agencies for years to get them to admit that their bloated animal testing programs (which are responsible for the suffering and death of hundreds of millions of animals) are outdated, ineffective, and, frankly, absurd—here’s a little rundown on what this all means, and how it came about:
First of all, this is a significant about-face for the NTP and the EPA—both of whom have been shockingly resistant to incorporating modern science into their toxicity testing programs. It looks like the United States is finally beginning to realize (as Europe has known for some time and as the animal protection community has been advocating for years) that the public and the environment can be better protected through non-animal in vitro tests based on well-understood biological principles than by throwing wads of cash and millions upon millions of lives into the bottomless pit of animal testing.
Fighting this entrenched, bureaucratic mentality over the past couple of decades hasn’t been easy—and, as usual, we’ve had to use a two-pronged attack to get it done: While our Regulatory Testing Division comments on each animal testing plan that the EPA and the NTP puts forward, works directly with top corporations doing the testing and finding alternatives, testifies at government workshops and before Congress, and, occasionally, sues the government to disclose their deliberations about promoting animal tests, our Campaigns Department gets out the billboards, the bullhorns, and the bunny suits and shouts about these ludicrous, wasteful experiments to anyone who will listen. During this time, PETA has convinced the Department of Transportation to stop testing corrosive substances on rabbits, followed Al Gore around on his campaign stops with a 10-foot rabbit to convince him to stop pushing EPA animal tests, and worked (ever-so-patiently) to persuade regulatory agencies which still believe that it’s important, for example, to keep testing asbestos on animals (the NTP) and which have failed to ban a single toxic industrial chemical in more than a decade (the EPA) that maybe it’s time to stop testing on animals and start using modern science instead. We’ve also funded the development and incorporation of non-animal test methods to the tune of more than ¾ million dollars in recent years.
This new collaboration is certainly something different, and it’s a promising step in the right direction—but it has to be backed up with Congressional will and funding if it’s going to get anywhere. A new entity must be created with the resources to get the job done—it can not be left to the EPA and the NTP. The fact that the head of the human genome project is involved with this is a good sign—it’s going to take an intense, focused effort on the scale of the human genome project to get the job done.
So we’re hoping that the prevailing wind surrounding the National Research Council’s vision and the newly announced collaboration between the NTP and the EPA will provide the momentum necessary to overcome the inertia that has characterized the American government’s attitude to toxicity testing for decades, and which causes the suffering and death of more than 15 million animals every year.
For more information on what you can do to help animals used for experimentation, check out StopAnimalTests.com.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.