The Washington Post has just released an investigation into the shocking lack of progress that exists in U.S. government policies on animal experimentation. The Washington Post began its own investigation after PETA presented evidence of government negligence. As the article points out, hundreds of millions of animals in this country are still being killed in gruesome ways to test substances like Botox, even though there are modern, non-animal methods available. Part of the problem is a categorical failure by the agency that’s charged with reducing the use of animals in toxicity testing—the folks over at ICCVAM (who I’ve talked about a bit before on this blog)—to actually do their jobs. As the Post article puts it:
“The controversy over the Botox test highlights the slow pace of government efforts to replace or reduce the large numbers of animals used by pharmaceutical companies, chemical manufacturers and consumer firms to ensure that their products are safe for people. A decade after Congress created a panel to spur the development of non-animal tests, only four such tests have been approved out of 185 reviews, according to the panel’s records.”
During the same period of time, ICCVAM’s European counterpart has recommended more than two dozen non-animal tests, and the U.S. continues to lag well behind Europe in adopting modern alternatives to animal testing, which—in addition to causing unnecessary suffering and death for countless animals—poses a significant threat to human health.
There is a bit of good news, though, in the form of a landmark report by the National Academy of Sciences, which indicates that the United States may finally be ready to start catching up to other nations by adopting modern testing methods. But this isn’t going to happen while groups like ICCVAM are allowed to stand in the way. We’re currently calling for a congressional investigation into ICCVAM’s negligence, and asking that a new entity be created to oversee the implementation of the NAS recommendations. If you’d like to help out by contacting your members of Congress about this issue, you can do so through the webform here.
And definitely check out the Post article. This issue is monumentally important, but doesn’t get a lot of ink, so it’s great to see a publication like The Washington Post giving it its due.