In laboratories across the U.S., animals, including rabbits, mice, rats, and guinea pigs, are confined to stocks while chemicals are injected into their bodies or dripped onto their shaved backs. After the chemical does its damage, they are killed just to add another meaningless number to a chart. There are cheaper, faster, and more human-relevant non-animal methods that can replace these tests.
In 2004, PETA launched our “Give the Animals 5” campaign, which identified five tests on animals that could be ended immediately without any threat to public health or safety: skin corrosion, skin absorption, skin irritation, phototoxicity, and pyrogenicity tests.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) took the lead in making Congress aware of non-animal test methods and urged his fellow legislators to end animal testing where internationally recognized non-animal methods could be used instead. In a letter to his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, he wrote:
We have enacted landmark legislation to protect the public from harmful chemicals. To carry out these laws, our federal agencies require pesticides and industrial chemicals to be tested to measure their toxicity levels. This is not cruel—this is good policy.
What is cruel, however, is to treat animals like test tubes. While no one is intentionally cruel in crafting measures to protect the public health, unfortunately, that is the result if we are not intentionally aiming to incorporate non-animal test methods.
I doubt any member of Congress believes that an animal should be subjected to pain in a toxicity test if a non-animal test would give an equally accurate result. I hope that you will review the information on the reverse and agree upon the same goal: The U.S. needs to take the lead in developing sophisticated, scientifically sound, non-animal toxicity testing methods.
On February 23, 2004, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) joined Rep. Moran in writing to the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In their letters, the members of Congress invited the head of each agency “to improve the science underlying your agency’s regulatory decisions while also reducing animal suffering.” They also posed a number of probing questions regarding the agencies’ ongoing reluctance to embrace existing, validated non-animal test methods.
Through our “Give the Animals 5” campaign, PETA has pressured U.S. government agencies and companies to follow the example of their counterparts in Europe and Canada and spare countless animals suffering and death in crude and outdated laboratory toxicity tests by taking the following actions:
- PETA filed shareholder resolutions with chemical, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies as a means of educating investors and senior executives about the plight of animals in laboratories and alternatives to animal testing.
- With support from members of Congress, PETA pressured the EPA and the FDA to turn their backs on animal testing.
- PETA wrote to the instructors of every undergraduate toxicology and pharmacology course in the U.S., providing them with copies of our “Give the Animals 5” factsheet and scientific journal articles and urging them to incorporate these materials into their course curricula.