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U.S. EPA Holds Inaugural Conference on Reducing Animal Testing for Chemical Safety

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler convened some of the leading voices in environmental research to discuss strategies for reducing animal testing in chemical safety research at a conference at EPA Headquarters. The one-day conference, which attracted more than 600 participants, including those on the phone and in person, focused on New Approach Methods (NAMs) for achieving reductions in animal testing. This event, which will take place annually, is a major step in implementing the vision Administrator Wheeler outlined in his September 2019 Directive for EPA to aggressively pursue reductions in animal testing.

“This is a matter of sincere importance to me,” said Administrator Wheeler, opening the conference at EPA headquarters. “Scientific advancements exist today that allow us to better predict potential risks without the use of traditional methods that rely on animal testing. With NAMs, we’re able to evaluate more chemicals across a broader range of potential biological effects, in a shorter time frame with fewer resources, while striving for equal or greater results. I look forward to continuing the work we’ve done with our partners toward reducing, replacing, and refining animal testing requirements moving forward.”

U.S. and international experts in environmental and chemical safety research came together to discuss scientific advancements in the NAMs field. Today’s conversation aimed to help the scientific community summarize the current state of chemical safety research and discuss scientifically sound alternatives to animal testing.

EPA scientists along with their colleagues from Health Canada, the National Institutes of Health, the Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods, Amgen, Integrated Laboratory Systems, Proctor & Gamble, and Syngenta presented on major topics such as the variability and relevance of current animal tests and expectations for NAMs. 

“We have come a long way in a few short years thanks to EPA leadership recognizing a need to move towards NAMs,” said Dr. Nicole Kleinstreuer, Deputy Director, National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods, National Institutes of Health. “These discussions underscore the importance of stakeholder involvement in helping develop approaches that offer increased scientific relevance while addressing the 3Rs of animal research: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.”

“The global context of chemicals is rapidly changing and chemicals management in Canada requires continued cooperation with international partners and organizations,” said Dr. Tara Barton-Maclaren, Research Manager, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada. “To meet current and emerging challenges, it’s essential to join forces to develop and implement NAMs and optimize the pace, accuracy and efficiency of chemical risk assessment while taking into consideration the directives to reduce animal testing.” 

“We applaud the actions that EPA is taking to fulfill its commitment to end testing on mammals by 2035, including this first-ever conference focused on NAMs) for chemical safety testing,” says Patricia Bishop, Science Advisor, The Humane Society of the United States. “Bringing together all stakeholders, as EPA is doing, is essential to ensuring human safety while sparing animals from suffering.”

“I very much appreciated participating in this conference,” said Dr. Doug Wolf, Senior Fellow, Syngenta. “The analytical framework I discussed results in precise, accurate risk assessments that protect public health and do not use animals. It was a privilege to participate in the conversation on this important topic and I congratulate the US EPA’s leadership in this scientific effort.”

“We are thinking critically about how EPA, the public, and the scientific community can evaluate the acceptability of NAMs for safety assessment,” said Dr. Katie Paul Friedman, Toxicologist, EPA’s Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure. “Fully understanding the variability of traditional approaches certainly helps inform what we can expect from NAMs and helps to build scientific confidence in them.”

Administrator Wheeler’s Directive to Prioritize Efforts to Reduce Animal Testing called for the agency to reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammalian studies by 30 percent by 2025. The Directive also sets an ambitious goal for the agency to eliminate all mammalian study requests and funding by 2035. Any mammalian studies requested or funded by EPA after 2035 will require Administrator approval on a case-by-case basis.

Over the past several years, EPA has made significant scientific advancements in NAMs and led efforts to reduce, replace, and refine its animal testing requirements. Earlier this month, EPA updated the list of NAMs that it developed pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended by the 2016 Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. The agency will continue to lead the way among federal agencies in the United States and internationally.

For more on today’s conference:

To see Administrator Wheeler’s September memo:

For more information on EPA efforts to reduce animal testing: