The National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) failures extend far beyond its addiction to animal testing. The agency also oversees a federal committee that Congress put in charge of implementing non-animal testing methods within the government. Although this sounds like a step in the right direction, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) has actually been actively working against its congressionally mandated mission to validate modern testing methods that would improve the reliability of tests and reduce the number of animals killed in toxicity tests. The following is a small sample of the obstacles that ICCVAM has introduced to the use of non-animal methods:
- Actively campaigning to prohibit the U.S. from adopting the Globally Harmonized System of labeling, which would allow the use of non-animal methods to assess skin irritation
- Insisting on the use of rabbits for testing chemical effects on eyes
- Failing to review any of the non-animal methods used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program
- Actively excluding experts in non-animal testing methods from its advisory committee
The interagency committee has lagged behind its European counterparts in approving new chemical-testing methods that do not involve animal subjects. The committee has either moved slowly or taken no action on reviewing methods to be used by the EPA, the Food and Drug Administration, and other federal agencies.
You can read more about the longstanding problems with ICCVAM in PETA’s 2008 report, the resulting front-page Washington Post exposé of ICCVAM, and our 2010 detailed review of 33 alternative methods for which ICCVAM has inaccurately claimed credit.
PETA called for the dismissal of ICCVAM head William Stokes, who, for more than a decade, undermined the use of scientifically reliable and humane non-animal testing methods, and we are optimistic that the new acting director will implement proactive and innovative approaches to developing and implementing non-animal testing methods government-wide.