Breaking news: Brazil will no longer require one-year pesticide test on dogs; reforms will save animal lives in the country and in the U.S.
Brazil this week announced sweeping changes to its requirements for animal testing of agricultural pesticides, including eliminating the requirement for a controversial one-year toxicity test conducted on dogs. The move will potentially spare the lives of tens of thousands of animals used each year for pesticide testing, and it is of special significance to animal lovers in the United States because the one-year poisoning test on dogs was sometimes conducted on U.S. soil for companies seeking to sell their products in other countries.
The news also carries special importance for us at Humane Society International because of our decade-long effort to abolish the one-year dog test from pesticide regulations globally. Years of negotiations between HSI scientists, pesticide companies and government regulators have seen this scientifically needless test taken off the books in the European Union, India, Canada, Japan and South Korea. Brazil, too, was poised to abandon it, but the process became mired in bureaucracy. Last year, a Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation at a Michigan laboratory found more than 30 beagles undergoing the one-year test for a pesticide for sale in Brazil. The company that commissioned the test defended it on the grounds that it was still officially required by Brazil. HSI worked to secure a waiver that ultimately led to the release of the beagles, who were placed for adoption and are now happily ensconced in their forever homes.
Brazil has moved to recognize modern animal testing alternatives, and create a process by which companies can request that scientifically unnecessary animal test requirements be waived. The new process replaces a nearly 30-year-old testing ordinance from 1992.
The change is the result of an ongoing dialogue between HSI and the Brazilian health regulatory authority, ANVISA. We began these negotiations around pesticide reform in 2013, hosting a regulatory science workshop, a webinar and high-level meetings with agency scientists and executive leadership. Because of the lengthy delays in publishing the new regulation, in 2017 we launched the campaign #AnvisaPoupeVidas to push the Brazilian government to action, and collected more than 160,000 signatures from local residents. The issue also gained the support of local celebrities, like Brazilian supermodel Fernanda Tavares, who acted as a spokesperson for the campaign.
Pesticides are among the most heavily animal-tested substances in existence. As many as 10,000 animals, including rodents, fish, birds, rabbits and dogs, can suffer and die for the testing of a single new pesticide “active ingredient.” Many of these tests are completely redundant.
The one-year dog toxicity test consists of force-feeding groups of beagle dogs a pesticide chemical every day for an entire year, after which the animals are killed and dissected to examine the chemical’s effects on their internal organs. This is what was happening to the dogs at the Michigan lab before the HSUS and HSI worked in tandem to end the testing and secure the animals’ freedom.
We congratulate Brazil for taking this important step to end these pesticide tests. The HSUS and HSI are working in the United States and around the globe with companies and government authorities to replace outdated pesticide testing requirements, and this victory gives us a much-needed shot in the arm as we continue to root out these practices everywhere they exist.