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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:

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) was one of the chief architects of the 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. EDF vehemently opposed the incorporation of non-animal tests—such as the internationally recognized in vitro genetic toxicity test—into the program.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) 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. EWG also led the opposition to a bipartisan Senate bill to modernize the way in which chemicals are tested in the U.S. and reduce the use of animals in chemical tests.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was largely responsible for designing and initiating a massive animal testing plan known as the EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). The purpose of the EDSP is to screen thousands of chemicals to detect endocrine (hormone)-disrupting effects. The EDSP in its original form had the potential to kill as many as 100 million animals in tests that were never appropriately validated.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) aggressively lobbied the EPA to initiate several large animal-testing initiatives. Dissatisfied with the rate at which the EDSP was being developed, 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. NRDC also fought every attempt by PETA to ensure that animal tests undergo the same scientific scrutiny as their non-animal counterparts. In addition, NRDC coordinated a joint letter calling on the EPA to require that all pesticides undergo developmental neurotoxicity testing on animals. This nonvalidated test kills between 1,200 and 2,500 animals each time it is performed even though EPA officials have admitted that they don’t know how to interpret the results of the test.

While some environmental organizations do recognize the futility of trying to manage dangerous chemicals by relying on endless animal testing, the above-mentioned organizations insist on mandating more and more animal tests for every chemical-related problem.

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