The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is ditching animal testing.
The agency intends to cut back 30 percent on requests and spending on animal tests by 2025. It hopes that all requests and funding will be eliminated by 2035.
The number of animals — including rats, mice, and rabbits — used every year in toxicology studies ranges from 20,000 to more than 100,000.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler — who has controversially overseen President Trump’s campaign to roll back the environmental regulations from the Obama era — believes that animal testing is no longer necessary due to the “scientific advancements [that] exist today.”
Instead of animal testing, the agency will use a number of alternative methods, including in vitro. This form of testing is conducted outside of a living organism, often in a petri dish or test tube. It allows researchers to study specific cells, viruses, and bacteria.
Sara Amundson — the president of the Humane Society’s Legislative Fund — commented in a statement, “this is the science that is being realized right now and will be the science of the future that will truly protect public health and the environment.” As well as in vitro methods, the EPA will also utilize computer modeling.
A new computer system developed by Professor Thomas Hartung of John Hopkins School of Public Health can predict the toxicity of a substance almost immediately. Hartung told the Financial Times last year, “these results are a real eye-opener, they suggest that we can replace many animal tests with computer-based prediction and get more reliable results.“
The EPA is granting $4.25 million to John Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center, Oregon State University, and the University of California-Riverside to further research into alternatives to animal testing.
‘A Big Win for Taxpayers’
According to the White Coat Waste Project, animal testing is both wasteful and unnecessarily harmful to animals. The organization aims to stop “taxpayer-funded experiments” on animals.
It says on its website, “with little accountability or transparency, animal experimenters hop on the gravy train and often ride it for decades at great expense to taxpayers without producing anything of value, draining resources from meaningful research and public health programs.”
The organization has praised the EPA’s move. Justin Goodman — the group’s vice president of advocacy and public policy — said it was a “big win for taxpayers, animals, and obviously the environment.”
Public opinion is turning against animal testing. According to a survey conducted last year, more than half of Americans want scientific animal testing to end for good.