New Legislation Needs to Address the Limitations of Animal-Based Chemical Tests
By Nancy Beck, Ph.D.
This letter was printed on April 21, 2010, in The Gainesville Sun.
To the Editor:
Since the first Earth Day 40 years ago, we’ve made progress in cleaning up our planet. But now there’s increasing fear that chemicals in everyday products may harm us and our environment. This Earth Day, we’re still using the same chemical test methods used on the first Earth Day in 1970. But now we’re closer to better chemical safety with the release of the Safe Chemicals Act and Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, new legislation to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act.
As a biologist, I’m glad the bills require the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten regulations and develop more nonanimal tests. But I am concerned they do not go far enough in addressing limitations of animal-based tests, which are inefficient and often provide inaccurate information about how chemicals affect human health. There are so many chemicals to test that nonanimal methods are the only way to test them all before the middle of the next century.
Legislation should give the EPA authority to require use of nonanimal tests as they are developed and provide resources to move toward modern, human-relevant methods. This is the best way to protect human health and the environment.
Nancy Beck, Ph.D., is a scientific and policy adviser with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.