Last week, we learned of alarming news about animal testing requirements imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The number of tests that the agency required or requested increased 795% from 2016 to 2017, and the number of animals used in testing increased 1,070% during that time.
As you may recall, in 2016, Congress approved a rewrite of our country’s chemical safety testing law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and regulators were ordered to develop a plan to reduce, refine or replace the use of vertebrate animals in testing. The EPA was ordered to finalize its long-term plan to utilize alternatives to animal testing, such as computer models and cell-based tests, by this year.
The journal Science reported last week that animal tests related to the TSCA skyrocketed in the last year.
The EPA required/requested 21 tests involving 8,881 animals in 2015 and 37 tests involving 6,539 animals in 2016. But in 2017, the first full year that the new law was in effect, the EPA requested 331 tests involving 76,523 animals.
Some of these tests involved placing chemicals into rabbits’ eyes, as well as having rats inhale various substances.
At this time, the reason for this increase is not clear, and the EPA has not responded to a request for comments on why the number of tests it requests or requires has increased so dramatically. It has been speculated, however, that this increase may be due to EPA staff compiling more animal data from companies as a result of some stricter requirements of the new law. In addition to being asked to explain the increased testing, agency officials have been asked about their plans to reduce animal testing in the future.
Until last week, the EPA had been accepting comments on its draft strategy for reducing animal testing, and NAVS took the opportunity to provide our thoughts on the matter. The EPA is required to issue its final plan by June 22, 2018.
We will keep you posted on any further developments in this area.
Source: Zainzinger, V. “Animal tests surge under new U.S. chemical safety law.” Science. May 8, 2018.