Animal rights activists are rejoicing this week. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a move to “aggressively reduce animal testing” and to stop funding mammal tests by 2035. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler promised to reduce new mammal tests by 30 percent by 2025 and pledged $4.25 million toward developing non-animal alternatives for testing chemical safety.
“Part of why I’m doing this today is because it’s been 30 years and we haven’t made enough progress,” said Wheeler, who wrote an anti-animal testing op-ed for his college paper in 1987.
However, some people question the federal agency’s motives. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggested the decision had more to do with reducing costs for chemical companies required to do expensive animal tests rather than helping animals.
“Phasing out foundational scientific testing methods can make it much harder to identify toxic chemicals — and protect human health,” said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist for the NRDC’s Healthy People and Thriving Communities program. Some scientists worry that mathematical modeling and other non-animal testing approaches won’t effectively replicate the human physiological system.
As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) pointed out in a tweet, “PETA worked with the EPA for decades to prevent rabbits, mice, rats and dogs from having to ingest or inhale toxic chemicals.” The animal rights group is confident that modern alternative models will effectively protect humans, animals and the environment.
“PETA will be helping regulatory agencies and companies switch to efficient and effective, non-animal testing approaches and working toward a day when all animal tests are only found in history books,” Amy Clippinger, director of PETA’s Regulatory Testing Department, said in an EPA press release.
Many people are disturbed by the pain and cruelty of animal testing, leading to bipartisan efforts to decrease its use. During Obama’s presidency, the Toxic Substances Control Act was amended, calling for the EPA to reduce animal testing.
Image via Tiburi