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Advancing Alternatives to animal testing

Author: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Advancing alternatives to animal testing


YEAR AFTER YEARAROUND THE WORLD, hundreds of thousands of rats, mice and other lab animals are methodically poisoned to generate information on chemical safety that scien tists already have—the data just hasn’t been organized so researchers can use it. An HSUS- created group is training scientists to collect, analyze and share this biological information, so they can predict what chemical exposures will do to humans without testing substances on animals.

In November, the Human Toxicology Project Consortium received a prize from Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and the Ethical Consumer Research Association for this train ing work, which relies on databases and software to catalogue existing biological informa tion and simulate chemical exposures. Catherine Willett, director of regulatory toxicology, risk assessment and alternatives for The HSUS, hopes that in the short term the new approach can sharply reduce testing of cosmetics, pesticides, drugs, industrial chemicals and other substances on animals.

“ The science is moving fast, much faster than we’re able to apply it,” she says. “ If you still feel you need to test, you can do one test instead of 20.”

Lush and the research association also recognized the Humane Society Legislative Fund, The HSUS and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for lobbying to get crucial words added to the 2016 update of the Toxic Substances Control Act. As finally approved by Congress after months of work, the law requires companies to use nonanimal


Most people know that animal research can be painful for the
animals used as subjects, but it’s also often ineffective. Only about
five of every 10,000 drugs tested on animals goes on to human
clinical trials. Many fail because of results specific to the species of animal
they were tested on. Some drugs that are discounted due to animal results can later turn out to be effective for humans. A great example of a drug that failed on research animals but works quite well in people? Aspirin. What other helpful medicines could we be missing out on because of cruel and ultimately ineffective research?

testing methods if at all possible.
Right now, rats and mice are given big doses of potentially toxic substances through tubes fed into their stomachs, or by being sealed into jars and forced to breathe chemicals, or through the applica tion of chemicals to their skin. Then they are euthanized and dissected to see what

“ There’s no good or kind or humane way

of doing this,” says Willett.
The United States is on the verge of

ending this type of suffering for many animals. The passage of the Humane Cosmetics Act, supported by The HSUS, HSLF and Humane Society International, would prohibit the manufacture and sale of animal-tested cosmetics.

Lush founder Mark Constantine says his company started giving the awards (which carry cash prizes of about $65,000, the big gest in the nonanimal testing field) because he was tired of waiting for change to come. “ I hope that what we’ll see is less talking about finishing animal testing of cosmetics and more reality.” —Karen E. Lange

-> SPEAK OUT: Contact your legislators and encourage them to support the Humane Cosmetics Act.

DMU Timestamp: November 27, 2019 01:26

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