Animal Tests Gets Green LightJune 8th, 2004
A federal court order has temporarily scuttled ALDF's challenge to an EPA program that could needlessly expose millions of animals to toxic substances. Intended to identify chemicals that pose a threat to the human endocrine system, the program could require extensive testing of nearly 87,000 substances. According to some estimates, as many as 1.2 million animals could be used as test subjects for every 1,000 chemicals the EPA analyzes.
"At the moment, about 20 million animals are used as test subjects each year. This program would quadruple that figure," says ALDF founder and general counsel Joyce Tischler. "We can't stand by and watch that happen."
Last year, ALDF challenged the EPA's plan for implementation of the program by filing a complaint on behalf of PETA, the Doris Day Animal League, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and other concerned parties. The complaint contended that the EPA failed to investigate the full range of necessary tests — including alternatives to animal testing — within a timeframe set by Congress. The complaint also charged that the EPA failed to consult with other federal agencies on its testing protocols (as mandated by Congress) and submitted animal and non-animal tests to differing levels of review, increasing the likelihood that animal tests would ultimately be implemented.
In December, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup dismissed the complaint. That doesn't mean the challenge to the EPA's testing protocols is over, however. ALDF and its clients are currently reviewing the possibility of an appeal. And Bruce Wagman, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs on behalf of ALDF, says there might be more chances to intervene once the EPA finalizes its plans for the program.
"The EPA is just using the same old animal model they've been using for years without acknowledging that there are valid alternatives," says Wagman, an ALDF member attorney and partner in the San Francisco firm Morgenstein & Jubelirer. "If the EPA doesn't take its time and really consider some of the alternatives to animal testing, there's going to be a lot of needless pain and suffering."