Going Global for Ethical Research: PCRM Assumes Leadership of the International Council on Animal Protection
PCRM scientists are taking the lead in an international effort to end chemical tests that kill tens of thousands of animals every year. In May, PCRM was elected Secretariat of the International Council on Animal Protection in OECD Programmes (ICAPO).
The OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), headquartered in Paris, is an international regulatory body with 30 member countries from North America, Asia, and Europe. A major function of the OECD is to internationally harmonize toxicity Test Guidelines and programs, which often involve animals. ICAPO uses its standing at OECD to advocate for policies that will reduce the number of animals used in chemical tests and eliminate tests that have nonanimal alternatives.
The OECD’s international testing program is very similar to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) High Production Volume Chemical Challenge Screening Program. Animals are force-fed industrial chemicals to measure lethal doses, and in some tests pregnant animals are poisoned to determine if the chemicals cause birth defects. This program kills tens of thousands of animals each year in cruel experiments that do not help protect human health or guard the environment against chemical hazards.
The policies PCRM promotes through ICAPO will reduce or eliminate animal experiments involving chemicals with little likelihood of human exposure and expand the use of “structure activity relationships,” which allow for toxicity information from one chemical test to be extrapolated to similar chemicals. ICAPO also strongly advocates for the adoption of in vitro Test Guidelines to replace animal-based guidelines.
PCRM staff experts Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., director of toxicology and research, Megha Even, M.S., research consultant, and Kristie Stoick, M.P.H., research analyst, bring a wide range of scientific knowledge and technical experience to ICAPO.
Dr. Sandusky traveled to Tokyo in December 2005 to attend the 14th annual meeting of the OECD’s Task Force on Existing Chemicals. Dr. Sandusky played a crucial role in encouraging the OECD to continue to use existing chemical data and computer modeling, instead of recommending new animal tests, on the chemicals reviewed at the meeting. At this and other international regulatory meetings, ICAPO’s presence was crucial in influencing animal testing discussions, including the deletion of current Test Guidelines involving animals as modern, nonanimal ones have been adopted.