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Report Card Grades: Physicians for Social Responsibility

Report Card Grades » Physicians for Social Responsibility » Grade: D

PETA wrote to the Physicians for Social Responsibility (not to be confused with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM) on March 9, 2001, asking for its position on animal testing, and the organization has yet to respond to PETA’s letter or endorse our statement calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase its funding and use of non-animal test methods.

PETA wrote to Physicians for Social Responsibility because of its public endorsement of animal testing, particularly with regard to the EPA’s Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program. This program proposed to use crude animal-based tests to establish levels of toxic contaminants that children should be expected to tolerate, rather than implementing strategies that prevent or reduce children’s exposure to these chemicals.

Physicians for Social Responsibility also endorsed extensive animal testing by endorsing a joint letter calling for the use of nonvalidated animal test methods such as the EPA’s developmental neurotoxicity test (DNT). The DNT, which kills between 1,200 and 2,500 animals every time it is performed, involves poisoning rats with toxic chemicals throughout their pregnancy and while they nurse their newborn pups. The pups are then subjected to a series of behavioral tests, after which they are killed and their brains are examined. Shockingly, EPA officials have publicly admitted that the rat is not “the right model” for humans and that they do not even know how to interpret the results of the DNT. Click here to download PETA’s DNT factsheet.

Remarkably, Physicians for Social Responsibility disregards its own advice from its 1999 report, In Harm’s Way, when it continually calls for more animal testing. In Harm’s Way states:

  • “Our snail’s pace approach to regulation clearly sets children in a minefield of uncertainty and potential harm, where the full extent of current hazards will be unknown for the foreseeable future. Even when there is substantial evidence of hazard, chemicals continue to be inflicted on the unsuspecting public for decades.”
  • “Rigid adherence to an inflexible standard for justifying action prevents timely regulatory response to public health threats.”
  • “We should not need to identify with certainty exactly how much and through what mechanism a neurotoxic chemical impairs brain development before coming to the conclusion that public health is not protected when the urine of virtually every child in this country contains the residues of these chemicals.”
  • “Animal studies of lead, mercury, and PCB’s each underestimated the levels of exposure that cause effects in human by 100- to 100,000-fold. Regulatory decisions that rely largely on toxicity testing in genetically similar animals under controlled laboratory conditions will continue to fail to reflect threats to the capacities and complexity of the human brain as well as important gene-environment interactions.”

What You Can Do
Please send polite letters urging Physicians for Social Responsibility to withdraw its support for animal testing. Click here for points that you can include in your letter.

Send letters to:

Catherine Thomasson, M.D.
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility
1111 14th St., N.W., Ste. 700
Washington, DC, 20005
202-667-4201 (fax)
[email protected]