DuPont Cancels Eye-Damaging Tests on Rabbits
Doctors Endorse Use of Internationally Validated Nonanimal Alternatives
WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reports that DuPont has withdrawn a chemical test plan calling for eye and skin irritancy tests on live rabbits.
DuPont had planned to conduct potentially blinding tests as part of the High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge, a controversial program launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1998. After proposing the tests to the EPA, DuPont became the target of criticism from health and animal welfare advocates.
PCRM staff scientist Nicole Cardello, M.H.S., reviewed DuPont's proposed experiments for dinitriles, chemicals used in the manufacture of rubber, nylon, and other materials. Ms. Cardello found that these substances were already sufficiently understood, and additional data would not change the way they are handled in the workplace, where they are already tightly controlled. In addition, internationally accepted nonanimal alternatives for the proposed tests are recommended and readily available.
"The proposed eye and skin irritancy tests on rabbits would not have yielded any meaningful data, and DuPont was right to withdraw them," states PCRM's Nicole Cardello, M.H.S., a health science expert. "With a goal of protecting people who might come into contact with dinitriles, it makes more sense to examine existing occupational information. If further data are needed, there are numerous, validated nonanimal alternatives such as Corrositex, which DuPont has been using for more than five years."
PCRM's analyses of DuPont's proposed test plans were submitted during a 120-day public comment period mandated by the HPV program. On Friday, Jan. 11, PCRM submitted a detailed analysis of the test plan for the dinitrile category; in a second set of comments, PCRM challenged a test plan for dicarboxylic acids, wherein DuPont has yet to withdraw its proposal to conduct unnecessary animal tests, including reproductive toxicity tests.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.