The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to animal testing.
EPA announced this week that it will eliminate all mammal testing by 2035. The government agency also revealed that it will give $4.25 million in funding to five universities to use for research and development of alternative testing methods and to identify ways to reduce or replace vertebrate animal testing.
EPA has been reducing its reliance on animal testing in recent years
The universities to receive the funding include Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Oregon State University and the University of California Riverside.
The EPA has long relied on animal testing to ascertain the risks chemical and pesticides pose to humans and their health but it has been making moves to reduce the agency's reliance in recent years.
In a memo released by the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said there has been enough scientific advancements to predict potential hazards without the use of traditional methods that rely on animal testing. Dubbed new approach methods or NAMs, Wheeler said it includes any technology, methodology or approaches that can avoid any animal testing.
"The benefits of NAMs are extensive, not only allowing us to decrease animals used while potentially evaluating more chemical across a broader range of potential biological effects but in a shorter timeframe with fewer resources while often achieving equal or greater biological predictive than current animal models," he wrote in the memo.
PETA applauds move, others aren't as happy
The EPA's goal is to reduce requests for and funding of mammal studies by 30% by 2025 and to eliminate it by 2035. Any studies that require mammal testing after 2035 will require the approval of an EPA administrator and will be viewed on a case by case base. The directive also calls on the Office of Chemical Saftey and Pollution Prevention and the Office of Research and Development to make efforts to prioritize actions that reduce the use of animal testing.
PETA, the nonprofit animal advocacy, applauded the move by the EPA, saying in a tweet the announcement is a culmination of almost two decades of PETA scientists working to end animal testing.
Today, the @EPA announced it will end toxicity testing requirements on mammals by 2035!— PETA (@peta) September 10, 2019
This groundbreaking announcement follows almost two decades of work by PETA scientists who will keep working to end all tests on animals worldwide! https://t.co/V383euy8oLpic.twitter.com/ARDFqxGoIP
Still, not everyone was pleased with the EPA's move. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an international nonprofit environmental organization called it "irresponsible" because animal testing helps scientists discover life-saving treatments and identify chemicals that could harm individuals and the environment.
“EPA is eliminating tools that lay the groundwork for protecting the public from dangers like chlorpyrifos, formaldehyde, and PFAS. Phasing out foundational scientific testing methods can make it much harder to identify toxic chemicals—and protect human health," said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist for the Heatly People and Thriving Communities program at NRDC in a press release. “Once again, the Trump administration appears to be working on behalf of the chemical industry and not the public. Congress should bar the agency from blindfolding itself.”