An End To Toxicity Testing on Animals

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on June 8, 2009

I’m excited about a major development that could spare many, many thousands of animals from being used in agonizing toxicity testing.

In 2007, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a report entitled “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and A Strategy.” This Report proposes a new paradigm for toxicity testing, one that moves away from using live animals and replaces them with alternatives, such as cell cultures, tissues cultures, computer models and other methods.

The NRC Report points out that the current system of toxicity testing is a patchwork effort that relies heavily on the use of live animals. From the perspective of those of us who seek to protect animals from harm, toxicity testing is a nightmare. The NRC recognizes that in order to meet the regulatory and information demands of the 21st century, considerable additional information is needed about the toxicity of compounds used in commerce and in the environment. The current system cannot meet these demands in a cost-effective, ethical and timely manner. Only by evolving to a testing scheme that is dominated by non-animal methodologies can they meet the demands of science and protection of the public.

This is exciting, folks. This is big news. At ALDF, we don’t want to stand on the sidelines and merely hope for the best, so we are working as part of a coalition to support the changes recommended in the NRC’s Toxicity Testing Report.

Five ground-breaking symposia are currently being developed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School and The Environmental Law Institute. We are inviting speakers who are experts in toxicology, risk analysis, policy implementation and all of the relevant laws, to come together and discuss the problems and opportunities involved in moving from animal testing to alternative methods. Our objective is to bring about a “win-win” for everyone – the animals, the scientists, the industries, environmentalists and public health advocates – by helping them work through the many questions of how to develop non-animal scientific techniques that are more cost-effective, faster and better predictors of toxicity.

The first symposium entitled “The International Implications of the US National Research Council’s Report on Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities in Implementation” will be held at (and with the cooperation of) the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa on June 29-30. It will focus on scientific, risk assessment and implementation challenges and opportunities. Later symposia will focus on economic issues, what laws and regulations will need to be changed and how to encourage the scientific development of alternative methods for testing. This work is complex and many layered and the change will not come as quickly as we would like, but we are feeling very hopeful.

Stay tuned, because I will report back to you on each of the symposia and will let you know where you can locate more information on this subject. 


2 thoughts on “An End To Toxicity Testing on Animals

  1. RHEA says:

    I DO NOT KNOW IF THIS IS THE RIGHT PLACE TO POST THIS. HOWEVER I NEED HELP AND INFORMATION. THE LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER DOES NOT ACCEPT CATS AND THEY ARE ADVISING PEOPLE TO TRAP THEM AND TAKE THEM TO A SAFE LOCATION. I WAS TOLD THAT THE DID NOT HAVE ANY OBLIGATION TO LET THE OWNERS OF THE CATS KNOW THAT THEY ARE TRAPPING THE CATS OR WHERE THEY ARE TAKING THE CATS. THE CLOSEST ANIMAL SHELTER THAT ACCEPTS CATS WAS RECENTLY CONVICTED OF SELLING CATS TO TESTING FACILITIES. IN THE PAST THIS SAME ANIMAL SHELTER WAS CAUGHT ABUSING DOGS AND INHUMANLY EUTHENIZING THE ANIMALS. THEY HAVE BEEN IN TROUBLE FOR THIS ON MANY OCCASIONS. THIS SHELTER IS FUNDED BY TAX DOLLARS. WE DO HAVE A PROBLEM WITH STRAY CATS AND ABUSE OF THE CATS IN THIS AREA. SEVERAL PEOPLE INCLUDING MYSELF HAVE LOST CATS RECENTLY. I WOULD APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH IF I COULD GET SOME INFORMATION ON HOW TO FIND A SAFE WAY TO HELP GET THE STRAYS OUT OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

    IN THE PAST ON OF OUR NEIGHBORS TRAPPED CATS AND HAULED THEM OFF. ONE OF THEM WAS MY CAT SO I WENT TO THE ANIMAL SHELTER AND WAS TOLD THAT THEY HAD NOT RECEIVED ANY CATS FROM MY AREA I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO LOOK AT THE CATS. WHEN THESE NEIGHBORS FIRST MOVED IN SEVERAL CATS WERE POISONED AND THE ANIMAL CONTROL UNIT WAS CALLED OUT THESE CATS WERE SUFFERING SEVERELY AND THEY WERE PUT IN A TRUCK UNTIL THE DRIVER COULD TAKE HIM TO A VET IN ANOTHER TOWN THIRTY MILES AWAY. FIRST HE HAD TO FINISH ANSWERING THE CALLS HE HAD IN THIS TOWN. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE STAYS IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD SAFELY REMOVED BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET THIS DONE BEFORE EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD LOSES THEIR CATS.

    I DON’T KNOW IF IT WOULD HELP TO CALL THE POLICE BECAUSE THE TO HAVE BEEN IN TROUBLE FOR CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. SOMEONE CALLED TO HAVE A DOG PICKED UP THAT THEY HAD TRAPPED IN A CAGE BUT THE DID NOT RESPOND TO THE CALL UNTIL THE DOG HAD STARVED TO DEATH.

    I HAVE BEEN READING ABOUT HOW CALIFORNIA HAS THE TOUGHEST LAWS CONCERNING ANIMAL CRUELTY. I LIVE IN THE AGRICULTURE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD BUT OUR HUMAN SOCIETY IS THE CRUELEST I HAVE HEARD OF. PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW TO SAVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD CATS AND SAFELY GET RID OF THE STRAYS.

    THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP YOU CAN GIVE

  2. Gail Carpiniello says:

    If I can assist in ending the toxicity testing on animals, please let me know – I’m a legal exec. assistant and am willing to help in all areas.