Posted by Monica Engebretson on 8th March 2016
Will America save thousands of animals from cruel chemicals tests?
US poised to update chemicals regulations
The United States Congress is poised to update how chemicals are regulated across the US. These changes have potential to greatly impact animal testing.
It’s been 40 years since the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976. In that time a lot has changed including the number chemicals available, and the techniques to test them. The TSCA hasn’t kept pace with modern needs and modern science.
The experiments used to assess the safety of chemicals are called toxicity tests. They traditionally involve the poisoning of guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, birds, rats and mice. In addition to the terrible cost to animal welfare, these cruel tests are time consuming and expensive.
Thankfully, due to innovations in science, animal tests are being replaced in areas such as toxicity testing. So an update to TSCA brings with it the opportunity to phase out animal testing once and for all.
While talk of reforming TSCA has rattled on for years, there is now a real possibility of it happening this year. That’s because both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate passed bills last year overhauling the Act.
S.697 the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (also called the “Udall-Vitter chemical safety bill”) was passed in December 2015 by unanimous consent. And the House bill, H.R. 2576 (TSCA Modernization Act) was passed 6 months earlier.
The good news is that the Senate Bill (S.697), now contains language that:
- Requires the consideration and use of validated alternatives to animal testing before resorting to animal tests
- Prioritizes the research and development of new non-animal testing methods.
- Requires that the EPA develop a “statement of need” for any required testing
These provisions would significantly change how the use of animals in testing chemicals is handled. And it could spare tens of thousands of animals from painful chemical toxicity tests each year.
The next step is a meeting between the House and Senate to resolve differences between the two bills. Whether or not the animal protection changes survive the merge remains to be seen.
And, even with strong support this legislation could get caught in Presidential election crossfire.
Anything could happen, but one thing is for certain: in order to protect the public and environment from toxic chemicals, and to improve the quality and humaneness of science, the final bill must require and prioritize alternatives to animal tests.