“We hope to see government agencies use this roadmap to expedite the acceptance of robust testing approaches that will better protect human health and save animals from suffering and dying in toxicity tests” PETA
Less than one month ago, to say the outlook for animals in US laboratories was looking even grimmer than before, is an understatement.
In line with the present administration’s passion for deregulation, the USDA, the NIH and the FDA, who between them oversee the majority of testing on animals, are said to be working together to reduce the “administrative burden” on the researchers and institutions that use animals.
What’s more, according to the Humane Society, the researchers themselves are actively pushing proposals to“try to stifle transparency, and make sure their interests are met and not the animals.'”
The two most worrying recommendations from the researchers to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare‘s consultation are:-
- Abolishing the requirement to trawl the literature for alternatives to animal testing
- Calling on the White House “to create a new advisory panel made up of animal researchers”
Find out more here
Just a week or two later, we get news that appears to be taking the fate of animals in labs in a much happier and exactly opposite direction:
The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), a government committee composed of representatives from 16 U.S. federal regulatory and research agencies, published its new roadmap to “facilitate the development of toxicological testing methods that replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals.”
Well yes, our gut reaction is bitter laughter – how many times have we heard the top brass trot out the 3 Rs with little or no evidence of their implementation on the ground.
But, it is the first strategic plan the agency has put forward in two decades, and so far, so good. This is what the National Institutes for Health has to say:
“The roadmap was developed to guide the application of new technologies, such as high-throughput screening, tissue chips, and computational models, to toxicity testing of chemicals and medical products.
“The roadmap describes three strategic goals required for progress:-
- Connecting new test method developers with end users.
- Promoting flexible approaches for establishing confidence in new methods.
- Encourage the adoption of new methods by federal agencies and regulated industries once validated.
“To continue this process, ICCVAM is sponsoring a session on the roadmap at the Society of Toxicology meeting in March, and several other scientific meetings in the spring.”
Clearly, even if the researchers get their way and future deregulation means they are no longer required to “trawl the literature for alternatives to animal testing”, the NIH is actively seeking to promote and encourage the use of the many alternatives now available.
Of course the proof of the pudding …. We will have to wait to see which way this tug of war between the roadmap and deregulation will go. Hopefully, the negative effects of any deregulation will swiftly be overtaken not just by the impetus the roadmap is going to provide, but by an economic imperative. As technology continues to advance and get cheaper (using animals in labs is a very costly business, in dollars as well as lives) we will see more cost-effective, more reliable, and above all more humane methods of testing winning the day.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has had significant input to the new roadmap. The charity has its own Regulatory Testing Department headed by Jessica Sandler, a specialist in biological and chemical hazards for formerly working for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She now has a number of highly qualified staff working alongside her dedicated to saving the lives of millions of animals.
Read some of their achievements here
Help animals in US labs – petitions if you haven’t signed them already. If you have, please share.
Take Action here US citizens only
LOTS of petitions by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine here. Everyone can sign
Experimenters Want to Gut Protections for Animals in Labs. You Can Fight Back here (Everyone)
NEAVS’ petition to end cosmetics testing on animals in the US, sign here (US citizens only)
Sign up for NEAVS’ news and action alerts here
Sign up for PETA’s news and action alerts here
Yesterday, February 13th 2018, the UK labour Party unveiled its 50-point plan for animal welfare, which includes “a review of all animal testing with a view to improving practice, limiting animal suffering and increasing transparency.” Now all we need is to get them into power! HuffPost