Animal Welfare Groups Poised for TSCA Reform Policy Win - Despite Greens' Misgivings
Sam Pearson, E&E reporter
E&E Daily: Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Animal welfare groups stand to win significant changes to how U.S. EPA handles the use of animals as test subjects in studies of potentially hazardous chemicals -- even though the broader environmental community continues to have misgivings about pending legislative proposals for reform.
For the first time, language in the Senate chemical reform bill -- S. 697, or the "Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act" -- would aim to steer EPA and chemical companies away from animal testing over time, with the potential to eventually reduce the use of tens of thousands of laboratory animals each year.
But the language is the product of a sometimes bitter split between the animal protection movement and many environmental groups, which often balk at efforts to use uncertain safety standards or limit EPA discretion for testing chemicals -- for fear such moves would be exploited by the industry. Animal welfare advocates are also frustrated by what some say is EPA's slow pace of implementing changes to the traditional testing methods.
The Senate bill is an attempt to expand EPA's authority to require chemical testing to learn more about substances of concern, while also setting a policy that will reduce the use of animals over time. According to the Humane Society of the United States, tens of thousands of animals are killed each year to test industrial chemicals, but some scientists and advocates warn that the tests are necessary to protect human health -- and to spare wild animals from substances whose harmful properties could otherwise go undetected.
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