PCRM Goes International to Save Animals
Thousands of animals suffer and die every day in chemical tests around the world. But PCRM scientists are using their expertise to end these tests. Elected Secretariat of an international animal protection council in 2006, PCRM has pushed hard for humane alternatives. Now, a new database promises to dramatically reduce the number of animals used in such tests.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international body that coordinates testing policies from various countries. In 2002, the International Council on Animal Protection at OECD (ICAPO) formed to incorporate alternative methods that can replace, reduce, and refine animal use in chemical testing.
As Secretariat of ICAPO, PCRM organizes ICAPO’s efforts to comment on proposed test guidelines and policies, nominates scientific experts to OECD meetings, and advocates for the adoption of nonanimal test guidelines.
Along with Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., coordinates ICAPO’s day-to-day activities and works to build ICAPO’s influence at OECD. Since PCRM became Secretariat, ICAPO has added the Dr Hadwen Trust, a British research organization, to its membership and fortified ICAPO’s standing at OECD, ensuring its ability to advocate for animals in laboratories will continue to grow.
Ms. Sullivan serves on five expert groups and task forces. Her membership in an OECD acute inhalation toxicity expert group has allowed her to help revise inhalation toxicity tests that will dramatically reduce the number of animals used in these tests. Dr. Sandusky and experts from other ICAPO member organizations also serve on several expert groups and task forces.
While changes in international testing policies often take years to implement, several proposals ICAPO submitted to the OECD for consideration since PCRM became Secretariat have been taken up by member countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. These and other proposed revisions could save hundreds—even thousands—of animals each year.
The QSAR Toolbox, OECD’s innovative new research tool that allows scientists and regulators to find information about the potential toxicity of a chemical, is a direct result of ICAPO’s efforts to reduce animal testing. The information in the database relies on toxicities that are already known or can be modeled by a mathematical algorithm.
Dr. Mark Cronin, a professor at Liverpool John Moores University and an ICAPO expert, was an instrumental participant in the creation of the QSAR Toolbox, representing a dramatic example of international cooperation on the part of industry and government scientists. The first version was launched on April 15, 2008, in Paris, and work has already begun on a second version.
PCRM’s goal as Secretariat is long term. “Our success lies in the connections we have been able to forge with scientists from universities and governments all over the world,” Ms. Sullivan said. “This allows us to advocate for animals in laboratories on a much bigger scale and in a much more meaningful way.”