Toxic Substances, Nontoxic Policy

By on July 14, 2015 with 8 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Each year, tens of thousands of animals are killed to test industrial chemicals, including ingredients found in common household products in our homes. These animals suffer terribly, as harsh chemicals are rubbed into their skin, forced down their throats, and even dropped in their eyes. Some tests involve administering these chemicals over a prolonged period of time causing horrific deaths.

But now, there’s good news in Congress for modern science-based alternatives to chemical testing that do not rely on animals.

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), introduced by Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 46 other lawmakers, would significantly improve the science behind chemical testing, resulting in better safety decisions to protect the environment and human health. The bill  language would lead to the use of  fewer animals in testing and, in some cases, could eliminate it.

Today, I want to call out Senator Cory Booker, D-NJ, for his fierce determination in getting this language included to require the use of existing validated alternatives to animal testing where available, ensure that research and development of new methods is prioritized and create a host of procedures prior to any new testing, making animal testing the final procedure. Senators Udall and Vitter – both determined animal advocates – actively supported his efforts to insert that critical language to make animal testing a last resort.

The bill calls for quickly identifying chemicals that are most likely to pose health problems, and then focusing resources on testing those chemicals more thoroughly. Considering that we are surrounded by tens of thousands of chemicals, it is a practical and common-sense approach that would save time and money: a full battery of safety tests takes more than a decade, and can cost tens of millions of dollars and thousands of animal lives. Toxic chemicals also pose a significant threat to fish and wildlife populations, and science-based testing recommended by this new bill would help reduce that threat.

Traditional chemical safety assessments rely on overdosing animals and observing the results, like death, tremors or tumors. Most of these methods are even older than the current Toxic Substances Control Act, which this bill would replace. There is also a disconnect between the information we get from animal testing and the ability to apply it to human health; according to the Food and Drug Administration, 92 percent of prospective pharmaceuticals that passed animal testing still fail during clinical trials (the only situation where we have direct human information for comparison). This failure is due to many things, including lack of efficacy and unforeseen toxicity, even after testing in a wide range of animals.

In a seminal report in 2007: “Toxicity testing in the 21st century: a vision and a strategy,” the National Academies of Science proposed capitalizing on the dramatic revolution that has occurred in our understanding of biology, in the 50 years since the traditional animal-based methods were developed. Innovations in computer and materials science now offer strong alternatives to animal testing, including  3-D printing, construction of artificial human tissues, and the generation of sophisticated computer programs that can make predictions based on complex information. The NAS recommended designing highly reliable tests that measure chemical effects on critical biological pathways without using animals.

Today, scientists and regulators around the world, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, agree that this is the best way forward. We call on the Senate to pass the bill, and continue working to strengthen the ability of states to adopt even stronger animal welfare and public safety provisions, and then urge the House to accede to this Senate language. Please join me in supporting S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, and urge your senators to vote for this breakthrough bill that would help make chemical testing smarter for regulatory decision-making and protect animals’ lives.

Animal Research and Testing, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Penelope Bianchi says:

    Wayne, once again you have stepped into the gap where things need to change!

    I wholeheartedly support this!

    Animals do not need to be subjected to this for our knowledge of chemicals.

    thank you so much!

    Thank you for your heroics on a daily basis on behalf of animals!

    I ask you (and I know others have brought this case to your attnention); to help or support or whatever you can do to help with our local case.

    Davey was a puppy who you know all about (Dwight told me); this is a horrific miscarriage of justice. A person who deliberately, systematically abused, sexually abused…and tortured a puppy over a period of time.

    He was given a “slap on the wrist” as a punishment. He is a Chinese National….and deportment wasn’t on the punishment list.

    the last time I demonstrated was years ago in Washington to support abortion rights!

    I am demonstrating for Davey on the 19th in Santa Barbara.

    I love that our Humane Society party is “against cruelty”. I am carrying that in my heart!

    I know Dwight has been in touch with you….maybe we can’t help; but I am determined to try!!



  2. Meredith Liguori says:

    Animal Testing is an outdated way to obtain information that is relevant to human populations. Fortunately, science is evolving and so too are the methods that can more accurately give scientists and regulators information on chemicals in our environment. The bad news is that, despite all the advancements, many scientists and companies still use animals in experiments.

    Animals do not react similarly to chemicals as humans do, so putting animals through painful and lethal tests is both scientifically and ethically questionable. One modern nonanimal test method includes using human cells from surgical leftovers to create 3D human skin in a petri dish and then testing chemicals on that. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act will reform the Toxic Substance Control Act by modernizing chemical testing and I personally support this bill because of that.

  3. Sharon Novak says:

    I do not believe any animal or living being should be experimented on. Anything that can feel discomfort or pain should not have to suffer.I live a life of chronic pain and I hate to think of anyone else living life that way.

  4. deepti nambiar says:


  5. Emily says:

    I have a possible concern that I hope you can address. Often these bills propose to decrease animal tests, but actually start to do that by temporarily increasing animal tests in order to hypothetically rule out any further tests for a particular chemical or ingredient. Does that make sense? Would this bill do anything like that?

    And although I love the sentiment behind this bill, does it go far enough if at the end of the day, animals are still being used in harmful tests?

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