In DepthANIMAL WELFARE

Animal tests surge under new U.S. chemical law

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Science  11 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6389, pp. 585-586
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6389.585

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Summary

Two years ago, when the U.S. Congress approved a major rewrite of the nation's chemical safety law, lawmakers ordered federal regulators to take steps to reduce the number of animals that companies use to test compounds for safety. But a recent analysis by two animal welfare groups found that the number of animal tests requested or required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jumped dramatically last year, from just a few dozen tests involving fewer than 7000 animals in 2016, to more than 300 tests involving some 75,000 rats, rabbits, and other vertebrates. The analysis was done in response to EPA's request for comments on a new draft strategy to reduce the use of animals in chemical testing. The cause of the increase isn't clear, but both industry and animal welfare groups are alarmed by the trend, and are asking agency officials to clarify why they are requesting the tests—and how they plan to reduce the number in the future.

  • * Vanessa Zainzinger is a science journalist based in the United Kingdom.