Testing Testing: Good News for People and Animals
Jun 01, 2009 03:00AM
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is reducing its reliance on animal testing to assess human risk of chemical toxicity. Instead, the EPA will focus more heavily on new tools available through advances in molecular biology, genomics and computational modeling.
It’s part of the agency’s move to use better, cheaper and faster ways to screen thousands of chemicals for human risk, including the impact of long-term exposure. Former testing costs that could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars will now drop to about $20,000. This will facilitate, for example, screening individual food-use pesticides for endocrine disruption, as may be required by the end of this year. Also, “For people who are developing green chemistry, this may allow them to look for an alternative chemical and profile that chemical,” at a doable cost, advises Robert Kavlock, director of the EPA’s computational toxicology program.
Kavlock believes that useful applications will be active within two years. He notes that animal testing will still be used for some things for the foreseeable future, but in smarter ways.