Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Congressional Briefing Says Animal Testing Should be Replaced with Alternative Methods

Yesterday there was a briefing held on Capitol Hill to update lawmakers on the status of non-animal test methods for assessing the toxicity of chemicals.  Led by Dr. Paul Locke of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), the briefing discussed the "3Rs" in US chemical law and policy.  Speaking at the briefing was Representative James Moran, who is ranking member of the House Appropriation Committee's subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

Moran is also co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC), a group staffed by both parties that seeks to raise awareness of animal welfare issues in Congress.  CAPC replaced the "Friends of Animals Caucus" that had existed in previous Congresses.  The briefing was in conjunction with CAPC.

Dr. Locke outlined the 3Rs, i.e., finding alternative testing methods that refine existing tests by minimizing animal distress, reduce animal usage, or replace whole animal tests.  Ultimately, CAAT and other organizations would like to see a shift to all non-animal testing such as those being developed as part of Tox21, the testing program that came out of the National Academy of Sciences report "Toxicity Testing for the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy."

Representative Moran concurred.  During the meeting he said that "virtually all animal tests are outdated in terms of efficiency and effectiveness."  He strongly suggested that the robotic tests being advanced by Tox21 could help rapidly screen the thousands of existing chemicals that so far have received no technical review, and do so more effectively than the standard animal tests.

More information on CAAT and the briefing can be found here.

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