Click here for full PDF.
For more than 30 years, the U.S.
National Toxicology Program (NTP) has been using your tax dollars to poison
small animals with massive doses of pesticides, drugs, and other chemicals to
see if the animals develop cancer.
Beginning even before they are born and
continuing every day for up to two years, rats and mice are forced to consume
food or water laced with a test chemical, have the substance pumped down their
throats and into their stomachs, or are stuffed into inhalation-chamber
restraint tubes and forced to inhale the test chemical as a vapor.
And as if that weren't enough, the doses
that animals are given are often so high that they cause sickness and suffering
over and above that caused by tumor growth and disease. Perhaps not
surprisingly, the NTP reports that as many as 70 percent of animals may not
even survive to the end of a two-year cancer study.
Just one of these studies takes approximately
five years to design, conduct, and interpret; kills as many as 860 animals; and
costs up to $4 million. Yet despite this enormous cost to animals and American
taxpayers, the former chief of the NTP's experimental pathology laboratory has
admitted,"[W]e don't know what the findings really mean."
conducted its own analysis of the NTP's rodent cancer testing program, the
complete results of which are published in our report "Wasted Money, Wasted Lives: A Layperson's Guide to the
Problems With Rodent Cancer Studies and the National Toxicology Program." Based on our review of all 502 federally funded
and conducted lifetime rodent cancer studies published on the NTP website as of
January 2006 as well as more than 25 years of published scientific literature
on this subject, we have determined that much of the U.S. government's more
than $1 billion investment in the NTP rodent cancer testing program has been a
waste. The funding has been used to underwrite studies that have been found to
have some or all of the following characteristics:
History also reveals that critical public-health and worker-protection
measures related to cigarette smoke, asbestos, benzene, and other
cancer-causing substances were delayed for many years because of misplaced
trust in animal tests, which could not easily replicate cancerous effects that
had already been documented in people. If standard animal tests failed to
readily identify these well-known human carcinogens, how many other dangerous
chemicals are Americans exposed to today as a result of misleading animal data?
The NTP actively
encourages people to nominate (even anonymously) chemicals that they would like
to see tested on animals. This has led to a long list of ill-conceived NTP
testing recommendations, including proposals to conduct extensive animal
testing of substances that have been used without harm for many years.
The NTP conducts cancer tests and other animal tests
on dietary supplements and herbal medicines that have a long history of safe
use in traditional medicines with few reported incidences of harmful effects.
In November 2009, PETA commented on the NTP's plans to conduct testing for butterbur,
evening primrose oil, and valerian, urging the NTP to thoroughly consider human experience, existing toxicity data,
and the application of non-animal test methods in order to avoid unnecessary
and duplicative animal tests. PETA also commented on the NTP's proposed testing
quai, a Chinese herbal remedy used for thousands of years primarily to treat
conditions of the female reproductive system. PETA reminded the NTP that dong
quai had already been recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and had undergone massive animal testing, making it difficult to
understand why the NTP was calling for even more testing in some of these
The NTP continues to conduct and/or call for animal
testing of popular dietary supplements and herbal medicines such as ginseng,
echinacea, aloe vera, and green tea. The NTP generally discounts the wealth of
human experience indicating that these products are safe, focusing instead on
one or two laboratory studies reporting questionable results. Animal testing of
dietary supplements and herbal medicines by the NTP should be suspended, and
these substances should be reevaluated on a weight-of-evidence basis, giving
due consideration to existing human experience.
In March 2010, PETA commented
on the NTP's recommendation of extensive animal tests for soy infant formula. Although soy-based formulas have been used safely since the early
1960s to feed more than 20 million infants, the NTP called for numerous new
animal studies that were clearly not applicable to humans. Some of the NTP's
recommended studies included giving rodents an isolated chemical of soy infant
formula, rather than the entire chemical mixture, in doses far in excess of
human exposures via dissimilar exposure routes. In addition, rodents have a
completely different metabolic profile for soy isoflavones than do humans.
Although several members of the NTP's advisory board agreed with PETA's
comments, the NTP's recommendations remained unchanged.
In May 2006, PETA commented on the
NTP's recommended inhalation toxicity tests of asbestos and artificial butter flavoring in rodents. It has been clearly demonstrated that inhalation results in
rodents don't apply to humans because of physiological differences between
species, and the additional animal tests only serve to further delay the
implementation of measures to protect people from these known dangerous
While PETA scientists regularly comment on chemicals that are
nominated for study to the NTP, in a number of cases, the NTP Board of
Scientific Counselors (BSC) has agreed with PETA and recommended a low priority
for animal tests. Following PETA's comments at a December 2010 meeting, for example, the BSC's review of an
extensive animal testing program proposed for chemical mixtures was highly
critical, citing a number of points made by PETA. A thoughtless approach in
this active area of research could lead to an unlimited increase in the numbers
of animals used in toxicity testing since already-characterized substances
could be retested in endless combinations. Fortunately, it seems clear that
this plan is now headed back to the drawing board. At the same meeting, the BSC
agreed with PETA's comment on a proposal for more animal tests on flame retardants that NTP scientists had neglected to mention 70 years' worth of
existing research on one of the substances that had been selected for even more
in-depth animal testing.
Within the past few years, a
chemical used in sunscreens and cosmetics (2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate) was nominated for carcinogenicity and multi-generation
reproduction toxicity tests, and the BSC agreed with PETA that the material
supporting its nomination was out of date, noting that a quick literature
search found dozens of relevant publications that had not been considered.
Finally, the BSC recommended that multi-generation reproduction toxicity
experiments on a plasticizer used in consumer products (diethyl
phthalate) should be put on hold after PETA questioned the relevance of
previously conducted animal experiments to humans.
Click here to learn more about PETA's
petitions to stop the NTP's endless proposals for animal testing.
Click here to learn about the
Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, a
committee overseen by the NTP that is working against its congressional mandate to validate non-animal
representatives need to hear that you don't want any more of your tax dollars used
to underwrite the NTP's rodent cancer testing program and animal tests for substances,
such as dietary and herbal supplements, that have long been considered to be
safe. Respectfully urge them to divert
public money from cruel animal experiments into promising,
lifesaving, and relevant clinical and non-animal research.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.