Animal rights activists celebrate the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and its acceptance of animal-free testing methods.
Skin testing is an essential part of risk assessment when moving chemicals by ship, plane, truck or train. US law states that substances must be evaluated for their potential to cause chemical burns.
Previously, shaved rabbits had to be exposed to dangerous substances. But the DOT now accepts animal-free skin testing as a viable alternative. It has not banned animal testing, but acknowledges that there is no requirement for animals to be part of the process.
The decision to move away from mandatory animal use comes 30 years after PETA helped persuade the DOT to partially replace rabbits in mandatory skin corrosion testing.
Remove animals from the test line
Skin testing in rabbits has been shown to produce variable results at best.
Now that animals are no longer required to perform skin corrosion testing prior to transport, PETA has pledged to publicize the policy change. Informing all relevant companies in the United States of the viability of synthetic skin testing procedures is an immediate priority.
The animal rights organization also released a letter from the DOT. He said he hopes the new policy will “lead to a reduction in the use of in vivo animal testing.”
The DOT decision comes as stopping animal testing continues to dominate activists’ agendas.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) won a significant victory last month, securing the release of about 4,000 beagles from a testing center in Virginia. They were granted their freedom after a judge reviewed inspection reports and concluded that they were living in “shocking” conditions.
Elsewhere, EgyptAir has just become the latest major airline to pull out of the test chain. It halted the transport of monkeys and primates to global testing sites with immediate effect. The change of heart followed an intensive campaign by PETA, supported by Action for Primates, Stop Carmales and One Voice.
A total ban on animal testing
PETA and HSUS continue to demand that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiate a ban on animal testing. Not only because of the cruelty involved, but also because of the inaccuracy of the results.
After animal testing, about 90% of drugs that make it to human trials fail, PETA reports.
An estimated 50 percent do not pass mustering due to unexpected toxicity that was not detected at the animal stage.
Despite these findings, the FDA continues to encourage animal testing to bring new pharmaceuticals to market.
“While we are encouraged by the FDA’s interest in advancing the development and use of non-animal testing, if we have any hope of ending the cruelty of animal testing, the FDA must s ‘commit to change,’ says HSUS.
“They must make it clear that animal testing is not the only option for drug approval and work to create incentives for companies to use and develop non-animal testing methods.”