Researchers respond to EPA directive to reduce animal testing
In September, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a directive to “aggressively reduce animal testing” by reducing mammal study requests and funding 30% by 2025 and eliminating them by 2035.
The types of mammalian studies to be eliminated include toxicology studies, which Wheeler says can be waived by the department or carried out instead using computer-based models. Wheeler says the EPA has already “saved thousands of animals used in laboratory testing annually.”
“From December 2011 to May 2018, the EPA deferred more than 1,000 pesticide toxicity studies under its Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act waiver process, saving more than 200,000 laboratory animals and reducing costs to the pesticide industry by more than $300 million dollars while maintaining confidence in the EPA’s scientific conclusions.”
In response, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which represents over 130,000 scientists, issued a statement emphasizing the vital role of animal models in environmental research.
“While FASEB recognizes EPA’s concern regarding the time and monetary costs associated with animal research, we are more troubled by how the unintended consequences of mandating the use of unvalidated non-animal models could negatively impact scientific rigor and public health,” writes FASEB.
As FASEB experts explain, “The primary challenge to the use of alternative models is their ineffectiveness to predict complex biological processes. For example, evaluating the effects of chemicals on different life stages, such as embryonic development, remains a challenge because experimental systems that mimic all phases of human development do not exist. Thus, it is critical to conduct toxicological assessments in animal models capable of complete physiological responses to determine the range of potential adverse effects of toxicants.”