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Who Failed the Class?

It is a sad fact that some organizations claiming to care about the environment and wildlife not only support, but actively promote the poisoning of animals in cruel and useless laboratory toxicity tests. Several organizations in particular have actively lobbied for more animal-testing and have caused major setbacks in the development and acceptance of non-animal test methods. For example:

Environmental Defense was one of the chief architects, and is largely responsible for initiating, EPA’s notorious high production volume (HPV) chemical-testing program. The HPV chemical program was created to pressure chemical manufacturers to test (or retest) thousands of chemicals using a “checklist” approach that relies on numerous crude, painful, and uninformative animal tests. Environmental Defense vehemently opposed the incorporation of non-animal tests—such as the internationally recognized in vitro genetic toxicity test—into the program. While the animal protection community has reviewed and commented on every proposed HPV chemical test plan that calls for additional animal testing in an attempt to limit the number of animal tests performed, Environmental Defense’s comments frequently call for additional animal tests, even on substances already well known to be extremely dangerous.

The Environmental Working Group is the driving force behind a new campaign to test cosmetics ingredients which, if left unchanged, could spell suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of animals.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has aggressively lobbied the EPA to initiate several large animal-testing initiatives. Dissatisfied with the rate at which the EDSP was being developed, the NRDC filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the EPA to begin the testing process sooner—without properly validating the animal tests that would be used—and has fought every attempt by PETA to ensure that animal tests undergo the same scientific scrutiny as their non-animal counterparts. The NRDC also coordinated a joint letter calling on the EPA to require that all pesticides undergo developmental neurotoxicity testing on animals. The nonvalidated developmental neurotoxicity test kills between 1,200 and 2,500 animals every time it is performed. In addition, EPA officials have admitted that they don’t even know how to interpret the results of this test.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was largely responsible for initiating, and has been one of the chief architects in designing, the EPA’s notorious Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). The purpose of the EDSP is to screen thousands of chemicals to detect endocrine (hormone) disrupting effects, even though scientists have been unable to even define what an “endocrine disruptor” is or does. However, as a result of lobbying by the WWF and others, the EDSP has become the largest animal-testing program of all time, with the potential to kill as many as 100 million animals.

While some environmental organizations recognize the futility of trying to manage dangerous chemicals by relying on endless animal-testing, these organizations insist on throwing more and more animal tests at every problem.

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