EPA Pledges To Greatly Reduce Animal Testing Of Chemicals : Shots - Health News Alternative tests are emerging, the agency says, such as computer modeling and tissue studies of cells grown in the lab. Environmental advocates say the move is too quick, and disregards human health.
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EPA Chief Pledges To Severely Cut Back On Animal Testing Of Chemicals

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EPA Chief Pledges To Severely Cut Back On Animal Testing Of Chemicals

EPA Chief Pledges To Severely Cut Back On Animal Testing Of Chemicals

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/759435118/759554295" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Chemicals that might be dangerous to human health or might alter the environment are routinely tested on mice, rats and other animals. Now, though, the chief of the Environmental Protection Agency wants to change that. As NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, he has ordered the EPA to dramatically reduce its use of animal testing.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: When reporters showed up at a wood-paneled room at the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., they were given a copy of an op-ed. It was from a college newspaper, and it argued against needless research on animals. The student who wrote it, Andrew Wheeler, is now the head of the EPA.

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ANDREW WHEELER: When I wrote this article back in 1987, I didn't think we were that far away from banning animal testing then. And I'm - you know, part of why I'm doing this today is because it's been 30 years, and we haven't made enough progress on eliminating animal testing.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: As agency officials looked on, he took up a pen and signed a memo.

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GREENFIELDBOYCE: His directive requires the EPA to reduce its requests for studies on chemicals like pesticides using live mammals by 30% in the next six years. By 2035, the EPA will be required to eliminate all routine safety studies using live mammals.

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WHEELER: I really do think that, with the lead time that we have in this - 16 years before we completely eliminate animal testing - that we have enough time to come up with alternatives.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Like tests on lab-grown cells or computer models that could predict a chemical's effect. He says the EPA will hold an annual conference on new methods and is funding researchers to help develop them. Sitting next to him were representatives of animal welfare groups like the Humane Society of the United States. Kathleen Conlee is its vice president of animal research issues.

KATHLEEN CONLEE: I think this announcement is extremely important and a huge leap forward where a government agency is committing to an aggressive timeline to end testing on mammals.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The move comes as the entire toxicology community has been moving towards alternatives. Penelope Fenner-Crisp is a former top EPA official. She says the EPA's pesticide program has recently made real progress in using new types of safety studies, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of lab animals. Still, she says...

PENELOPE FENNER-CRISP: I'm always a little troubled with deadlines on efforts like this.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: She says so far, no one has developed new tests for complex, subtle health effects, like ones that might hit animals' reproductive systems, and she says you can't necessarily dictate how fast that will happen.

Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.

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