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Report Card Grades: Center for Science in the Public Interest

Report Card Grades » Center for Science in the Public Interest » Grade: D

PETA has had a number of frustrating exchanges with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) regarding its calls for increased animal testing. CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson coauthored a letter published in Environmental Health Perspectives, in which he claimed that cancer studies in animals need to be longer. The letter admitted that the animal cancer assay had major shortcomings, and it described several well-known failures. But rather than advocating for more sophisticated ways to test chemicals and drugs, as even the U.S. government is beginning to do, CSPI claimed that poisoning animals over the course of their entire lives, from before they are even born, would somehow improve the flawed tests.

As PETA scientists pointed out in a rebuttal letter in the December 2008 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, lengthening the animal assay would only amplify the many scientific problems with the animal tests and would do nothing to address the fundamental inability of animal studies to predict cancer in humans.

CSPI also pushed hard for more animal testing on a natural, plant-based sweetener known as stevia, despite extensive animal testing that had already been conducted as well as hundreds of years of safe use of stevia by humans. CSPI asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to deny a request to use these natural sweeteners after having a University of California–Los Angeles graduate student and her adviser write a report on the alleged dangers of stevia derivatives. As PETA scientists detailed in extensive comments to the FDA, this report misrepresented existing evidence and made the absurd assertion that because rats are not good “models” for toxicological effects in humans, all the studies of stevia derivatives that have been done on rats should be repeated on mice and more rats! PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also sent letters to Jacobson and CSPI Board President Kathleen O’Reilly asking them to reconsider CSPI’s stance.

Animals won this battle, however, when the FDA ruled in December 2008 that stevia could be used for human consumption without additional animal tests.

What You Can Do
Please tell CSPI to stop calling for increased animal testing, which does nothing to protect public health and only increases the suffering of animals in laboratories.

Send a polite letter to Executive Director Michael Jacobson urging him to redirect CSPI’s efforts and push for progressive, non-animal methods that are actually capable of protecting consumers. Click here for points that you can include in your letter.

Please send polite comments to:

Michael Jacobson, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Center for Science in the Public Interest
1220 L St., N.W., Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20005
202-265-4954 (fax)