Birds Saved from Pesticide Testing
The Environmental Protection Agency requires companies to kill thousands of animals each year in toxicity tests for pesticides. But thanks in part to PCRM’s advocacy, the agency recently announced a new policy that could cut the number of birds used in these tests by more than half.
Currently, pesticides are tested on a variety of animals, including rats, mice, dogs, fish, and rabbits. These toxins are also tested on birds—sometimes caught in the wild—such as quail or zebra finches.
Birds experience extreme stress from capture and confinement: Up to 10 percent die during the acclimation period alone. The test, called an LD50, is designed to find the amount of a chemical that will kill half of the birds tested.
In 2002, the International Council on Animal Protection at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development formed to incorporate alternative methods that can replace, reduce, and refine animal use in chemical testing. As Secretariat of this council, PCRM organizes efforts to comment on proposed test guidelines and policies, nominates scientific experts to OECD meetings, and advocates for the adoption of nonanimal test guidelines. The EPA’s new policy is based on a new OECD guideline and reduces the use of birds by as many as 36 birds per test.
PCRM will continue working to reform toxicity testing to end animal use. In the meantime, reductions like these can save the lives of thousands of animals per year.