By Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel
I’m excited about a major development that could spare many, many
thousands of animals from being used in agonizing toxicity testing.
In 2007, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a report entitled “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and A Strategy.”
This Report proposes a new paradigm for toxicity testing, one that
moves away from using live animals and replaces them with alternatives,
such as cell cultures, tissues cultures, computer models and other
The NRC Report points out that the current system of
toxicity testing is a patchwork effort that relies heavily on the use
of live animals. From the perspective of those of us who seek to
protect animals from harm, toxicity testing is a nightmare. The NRC
recognizes that in order to meet the regulatory and information demands
of the 21st century, considerable additional information is needed
about the toxicity of compounds used in commerce and in the
environment. The current system cannot meet these demands in a
cost-effective, ethical and timely manner. Only by evolving to a
testing scheme that is dominated by non-animal methodologies can they
meet the demands of science and protection of the public.
is exciting, folks. This is big news. At ALDF, we don’t want to stand
on the sidelines and merely hope for the best, so we are working as
part of a coalition to support the changes recommended in the NRC’s Toxicity Testing Report.
Five ground-breaking symposia are currently being developed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School and The Environmental Law Institute.
We are inviting speakers who are experts in toxicology, risk analysis,
policy implementation and all of the relevant laws, to come together
and discuss the problems and opportunities involved in moving from
animal testing to alternative methods. Our objective is to bring about
a “win-win” for everyone – the animals, the scientists, the industries,
environmentalists and public health advocates – by helping them work
through the many questions of how to develop non-animal scientific
techniques that are more cost-effective, faster and better predictors
The first symposium entitled “The
International Implications of the US National Research Council’s Report
on Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities
in Implementation” will be held at (and with the cooperation of)
the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment at the
University of Ottawa on June 29-30. It will focus on scientific, risk
assessment and implementation challenges and opportunities. Later
symposia will focus on economic issues, what laws and regulations will
need to be changed and how to encourage the scientific development of
alternative methods for testing. This work is complex and many layered
and the change will not come as quickly as we would like, but we are
feeling very hopeful.
Stay tuned, because I will report back
to you on each of the symposia and will let you know where you can
locate more information on this subject.