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PETA Funds Non-Animal Methods

“The science PETA is sponsoring is critical to the elimination of animal use. PETA puts its money where its mouth is and has steadfastly supported better use of science to reduce reliance on animal testing.”
—Dr. Gilman Veith, Chairman of the Board, International QSAR Foundation

PETA has a long history of working closely with government agencies, industries, and educational institutions to push for humane, effective non-animal tests. In the last decade, PETA’s efforts have expanded to include the direct funding of the development and validation of modern non-animal tests. Validation is the process by which the reliability and relevance of a test method is established and is a requirement before adoption of a test method by national and international regulatory agencies (even though no such scientific validation is required for animal tests).

To date, PETA and its international affiliates have provided more than $1 million in funding for the development and validation of promising non-animal test methods and other alternatives to replace animal testing. This funding doesn’t compare to the billions of dollars wasted by the federal government, companies, universities, and many health charities on cruel and misleading animal experiments, but it is crucial for getting animals out of laboratories.

Skin Testing

Skin allergy or sensitization testing is commonly performed on a wide range of chemicals, including those found in pesticides, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. In the first validation of a non-animal method funded by an animal protection organization, PETA’s overseas affiliate PETA U.K. awarded a $130,000 grant to CeeTox, Inc., for the validation of a non-animal skin allergy test for cosmetics. In the current animal tests, 32 to 80 guinea pigs or 16 to 60 mice have chemical substances repeatedly smeared onto their skins or injected into their bodies before they are killed. These tests take weeks and cost $4,000 to $7,000 each. The new non-animal test, intended as a full replacement for the current animal tests, takes three to four days to complete and will cost less than half as much as the animal tests.

Validation of this testing method is particularly timely in light of the upcoming ban on sales of cosmetics in Europe that have been tested on animals. As of 2013, cosmetics that have been tested on animals will no longer be able to be marketed in the European Union, putting pressure on cosmetics companies to replace the use of animals in testing if they want to sell their products in the E.U.

Click here to listen to PETA’s interview with Michigan’s PBS station about the CeeTox grant.

PETA U.K. also provided funds to support the validation of a non-animal skin irritation method that was subsequently accepted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and that can replace the use of rabbits in skin testing worldwide.

Cancer Testing

Through the McGrath Family Foundation of San Diego, which supports PETA’s efforts to replace animals in laboratories with modern alternatives, PETA awarded a $62,000 grant to the International QSAR Foundation (IQF) to develop computer models to test the cancer-causing potential of chemicals and drugs in their development stages. Currently, every time that a drug or a chemical is tested on animals to see if it causes cancer, as many as 400 animals are force-fed that drug or chemical for one to two years and then killed. Besides using no animals whatsoever, the new test will also be more precise than the animal-based tests.

This funding will support the acceptance of an alternative to carcinogenicity testing for drug development, cosmetics ingredients, and chemical testing. The IQF’s sophisticated models are a critical first step toward completely eliminating the use of animals in cancer testing.

Other Projects Funded by PETA

In addition to the IQF grant for a non-animal cancer testing method, PETA has provided more than $250,000 in the past five years to the IQF to help fund the development of the OECD QSAR Toolbox, a collection of computer models and databases that can be used to estimate toxicity—without the use of animals—for a wide range of chemicals and health effects. The OECD QSAR Toolbox will allow scientists and regulatory officials of the more than 30 OECD-member countries to access information about chemical toxicity and avoid animal testing when complying with chemical regulations. Although it’s hard to predict the exact number, these tools will collectively provide information that will save tens of thousands of animals from chemical testing.

Other IQF projects funded in part by PETA have included development of non-animal models to test for acute toxicity, allergic reactions, and endocrine activity.

Click here to help support PETA’s efforts to fund alternatives to cruel and outdated animal tests.