Dow Chemical Co. is a major manufacturer of chemical, plastic, and agricultural products. Most of the animal testing at Dow is conducted by the company’s chemical and agro-science divisions, either voluntarily or as part of government-sponsored testing programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) high production volume (HPV) chemical-testing program.
PETA’s “Give the Animals 5” Campaign calls on companies to abandon five crude and cruel animal tests, replacing them with state-of-the-art and scientifically valid non-animal methods that are already in use in other countries. With the help of PETA supporters who hold stock in Dow, a resolution was filed in the fall of 2003, calling on the company to do the following:
- Commit specifically to using only non-animal methods for assessing skin corrosion, skin irritation, skin absorption, phototoxicity, and pyrogenicity
- Confirm that it is in the company’s best interests to commit to replacing animal-based tests with non-animal methods
- Petition the relevant regulatory agencies requiring safety testing for the company’s products to accept as total replacements for animal-based methods those approved non-animal methods described above, along with any others currently used and accepted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other developed countries
Despite its progressively worded “Animal Care and Use Policy,” Dow took a position in opposition to our shareholder resolution and sought permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—the agency responsible for administering federal securities laws in the U.S.—to exclude our resolution from its proxy statement, arguing that it dealt with ordinary business matters that are not subject to a vote by stockholders. The SEC staff did not concur with any of the company’s arguments and ordered Dow to publish the PETA-sponsored resolution in its shareholder proxy materials.
Subsequent discussions between Dow and PETA’s science advisors resulted in the company’s committing to steps to reduce the numbers of animals used in toxicity testing, including joint projects with PETA, and improving the conditions for the animals who continue to be used. In light of Dow’s willingness to participate in a constructive and ongoing dialogue about these and other animal-testing issues, PETA voluntarily withdrew its shareholder resolution.