Congress Grills the EPA over Animal Test Scheme
Ranking Republican and Democratic Members of Congress joined in strong bipartisan criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency's High Production Volume testing program championed by Al Gore. On June 17, 1999, the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment heard testimony from PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., showing that many of the chemicals the EPA plans to test, including turpentine, carbon tetrachloride, rat poison, and tetraethyl lead, had already been tested. When further testing is needed, cellular tests, such as those developed in the Multicenter Evaluation of In-Vitro Cytotoxicity program, are more accurate than animal tests.
The EPA's William Sanders responded that testing these chemicals was essential to understanding their effects on the environment. However, the tests called for by the EPA include the notorious LD50 and chronic poisoning tests that do not show environmental effects.
Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (Calif.), in a prepared statement, said that PCRM had "worked tirelessly to demonstrate that many of these chemicals do indeed have sufficient test data, or that testing them is simply ridiculous. Do we really need additional testing to show that rat poison is toxic to rats or how much molasses will kill a rabbit?"
Ranking Democrat Jerry Costello (Ill.) asked Dr. Sanders why the EPA keeps dragging its feet on implementing alternatives to animal tests, saying, "[I]t seems to me that we are always thinking about, reviewing, and considering, but not acting. And my question to you is, what do we need to do next to make this happen?"
Chairman Calvert continued, "It might be better to go back to the drawing board...and apply some well-considered, sound science to design a better chemical testing program—and, I might add, common sense. That would certainly be better than unnecessarily and cruelly killing test animals."