Breaking news: Obama signs measure to dramatically reduce animal testing

By on June 22, 2016 with 44 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Today, it was my great honor to attend the presidential signing ceremony at the White House for a revision of TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act, with my colleague Sara Amundson from the Humane Society Legislative Fund. Today’s final action upgrades a 40-year-old federal law regulating the use of chemicals, and contains – for the first time in any broader environmental and health protection statute – an explicit decree from Congress to minimize animal testing and to create a clear preference for the development and use of alternative methods and strategies.

The section of the bill relating to animal testing, championed by Senators Cory Booker, D-NJ, and David Vitter, R-La. – and strongly supported by Senators Tom Udall, D-NM, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and committee ranking member Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was a hard-fought battle. The inclusion of this language will almost certainly accelerate the movement away from animal tests for chemicals, pesticides, biocides, cosmetics, and other potentially dangerous substances in risk assessment protocols or for safety substantiation. So many lawmakers who pushed the measure across the finish line also attended the ceremony and celebration this morning.

President Obama signs the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which is expected to dramatically reduce animal testing

President Obama signs the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which is expected to dramatically reduce animal testing. Photo by Sara Amundson/HSLF

President Obama’s signing of the bill gives the Environmental Protection Agency an unmistakable mandate from Congress that it must continue to embrace 21st century science and transition away from outdated animal testing protocols, which are expensive, slow, and often non-predictive of the human circumstance. I wrote recently that the EPA is dramatically decreasing animal tests for pesticide hazard assessments, and is now working to replace animal tests in its endocrine screening program. In fact, in 2016, the EPA proposed to waive skin lethal dose tests for pesticide formulations.

To be sure, this is a global movement, and there is progress on many fronts. In 2013, the European Union banned cosmetic animal testing and trade, and India followed suit the next year. Recently, we announced that Australia will soon join that club. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a consensus body of 34 member nations, including the United States, has embraced the concept of using the best new techniques and approaches for safety assessment, and that will also accelerate the move away from animal testing on the international stage.

We are making gains in other domains where animal testing has long been a feature of risk assessment. In 2012, our Humane Society International team in Europe worked to reduce animal testing requirements, perhaps by as much as 50 percent, for risk assessment for pesticides and biocides. We’ve also succeeded in convincing Brazil, Canada, the EU, and India to delete a notorious one-year dog pesticide-poisoning study requirement (the United States deleted the requirement back in 2007).

In the past year HSI also worked with the EU to adopt animal replacement methods for skin/eye irritation, skin allergy, skin lethal dose testing, and a reduced animal use test for reproductive toxicity under its chemicals law – potentially sparing 2.6 million animals the effects of these painful tests, while the Indian health ministry banned repeat animal testing of new drug imports.

In all, there is evidence around the globe that a combination of moral intention to reduce and eliminate animal testing and implementation of new technologies that give us superior options are ushering in a new paradigm in the realm of safety testing and drug efficacy work. This is the humane economy in action, and the new law on chemical testing is an enormous advance for our cause. The long-established practice of poisoning animals for a variety of purposes is on the way out, and it will be replaced by human biology that will give us better results and not leave a trail of animal victims in our wake.

Animal Research and Testing, Humane Society International

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  1. margie anne says:

    Thank you, President Obama! And thank you, Humane Society, for so tirelessly fighting for our animal friends! Wonderful news !!

  2. margie anne says:

    I add:

    Barbara Boxer and Cory Booker have shown themselves to be steadfast champions for animal rights. Those of us who are active in the animal welfare movement VOTE in part, based on the humane society’s rating for Senators. And we make public on our FB pages the voting records of Senators in regard to the welfare of animals. I wish to see a future where Senate and Presidential debates have questions about the candidates records and stance on animal rights.

    • Jennifer M says:

      I totally agree with this! As a Californian, I have always been extremely happy to see that both Boxer and Senator Feinstein have a strong history of voting in favor of animal welfare issues.

      I am sad that Boxer is retiring, and my vote come November will go to the candidate who cares about animals.

  3. Bobbie Becker says:

    Thank you for all of your hard work, persistence, and humanity in passing this humane legislation. Please remain vigilant in passing future legislation protecting all of the animals, both domesticated and wild who share this earth with us.

  4. Tommy Lee says:


  5. Nicole Hanson says:

    Good! ! ! ! Thanks Obama!! That’s awesome!! We don’t need animals to test things for us! Not fair to them!

  6. Nadine Marie Rody says:

    Please free all animals

  7. Mary Jo Arendt says:

    Thank you so much, Mr. President! This awesome news is much needed in the wake of so much bad lately!

  8. Charlotte Nelson says:

    This is great news!!

  9. Diane Wright says:

    It’s about time, this has been going on for toooo long. I get so sick of everything taking so long, to make a change, to end the suffering of helpless animals that don’t have a clue why humans are doing these awful things to them. It needs to stop, completely, it sounds to me like their will still be some animal testing allowed. So upsetting to think of little bunnies, monkeys, dogs, mice, and rats etc. etc. being tortured, for testing. Thank you for going in the right direction on this.

  10. Sheri Squillace says:

    I hope in 5he future we can END ALL Animal testing. .GOD BLESS and Thanku

  11. Beverly Dudderar says:

    I certainly understand the concern and the importance of humanity to animals in product testing, etc. I just don’t understand the other options. I’ve read all of this and it still isn’t clear….I keep reading about new technologies but no description of what they are or even a hint. And then I see this: “The long-established practice of poisoning animals for a variety of purposes is on the way out, and it will be replaced by human biology that will give us better results and not leave a trail of animal victims in our wake.” Just wondering….does this mean that certain human specimens will take the place of animals in testing? Just wondering if this was an oversight in explanation. And how will the test subjects be chosen? just curious.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you Beverly for your trenchant comments. I had the exact same thoughts. I hope we won’t substitute prisoners or paid participants. We seem to have forgotten this story:

      • Linda Shannon says:

        This is not a situation that was caused by the lack of animal testing on a drug. Drugs and other substances have been tested on volunteer and paid subjects via clinical trials for years. These clinical trials are required by the FDA before a drug can be considered for approval.

    • Linda Shannon says:

      Drugs and other substances are already tested on human volunteers via clinical trials before a product is put on the market. You might find this article from the National Anti-Vivisection Society helpful.

    • Margaret Mary Bradley says:

      Beverly, I was wondering the same thing. I love animals and this news is amazing. In the interim, human life is also precious. Americans as well as all nations.

    • Mary Moore says:

      At molecular and cellular tissue levels, in vitro, lab cultures, computer generation and extrapolation, human trial stage, etc. It was not referring to experimenting on people, and certainly not without their consent.

  12. Julie C. says:

    Thank you for your compassion towards animals Mr. President! And a big thank you to the Humane Society too for your tireless efforts in the fight for animal welfare!

  13. Lee Anne Holdren says:

    So happy to see this, and it is gratifying to see that there were members of both parties on the team. I really hope we can end all animal testing in my lifetime.

  14. Jacqueline Gilbert says:

    I’m proud of the sponsors and the President for this progress in the fight for ending chemical testing on animals. It’s a start, but there are so many ways to abuse animals that aren’t covered by this law. We need to stop torturing animals in every way. Factory farming is a disgrace. Slamming baby pigs onto concrete floors and throwing them into dumpsters to finish dying is just one sick example. Emotionally torturing baby monkeys by separating them from their mothers and inflicting terror on them is unconscionable. Keeping laying hens in small cages all their lives, a practice which the Humane Society of the United States supports, is obscene. There are so many other ways that animals are abused, and this law touches only the tip of the iceberg. Why can’t we get Congressional support to make all animal cruelty a felony, punishable by mandatory prison sentences of a minimum of a year? If something would be illegal to do to a person, it should be illegal to do it to an animal. It’s not complicated.

  15. Linda Ensing says:

    Thank you so much, what a GREAT step for mankind

  16. Nahid Azami says:

    Thank you for all of your hard work, Thank you Mr. President, and thank you to the Humane Society.

  17. Jen says:

    Great News!!

  18. AVIS HOLT says:

    Thank You President Obama!! This will be better for animals and humans alike.

  19. Elizabeth T. says:

    Wonderful beginning towards animal rights for our unrepresented animal friends in the US. Now to do more work . .

  20. Lisa Di Lauri says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for stepping up towards making the world a more humane place for ALL living beings.

  21. Elizabeth Taylor says:

    Wonderful beginning for our unrepresented animals friends in this country. Now to do more good work . . .

  22. April kapchinske says:

    Wonderful news! A huge heartfelt thank you to all of those that made this happen!

  23. Ski stutler says:

    What about the 7.5 billion a year the NIH gives to colleges…to animal test..that’s $75 billion of your tax money every ten years . for test that can be done on a computer.. Its the fat pig college staff drinking from the trough to watch that same monkey smoke a ciggerette ir put spikes in a housecats heads and then tell student nurses to hush

  24. Jennifer says:

    It would be nice if the article told us what changes the bill would actually bring. Instead they chose to talk about political and thump HSUS’s chest

  25. Antoinette N. Hastings says:

    Wonderful news, thank you to all involved!

  26. Christine Dorchak says:

    Thanks to the dynamic duo of Sara Amundson and Wayne Pacelle! Keep fighting!

  27. Angola M. says:

    It is so nice to see that the president was able to sign a bill that protects these animals that can’t defend themselves.

  28. David says:

    It’s great that Congress is addressing issues like this. It’s hard for them to get much passed, so this is very promising.

  29. Betty Holden says:

    Thank you President Obama for caring about the animals!

  30. Deanna says:

    If only China would please get on board and stop the attrocities of mandatory animal testing.

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