Amendment to TOSCA May Drive Alternatives to Animal Testing
A legislative office working on an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Kid-Safe Act, expected to be introduced in 2010, has asked for language to be included that resembles European Union directives that outlaw animal testing in some cases.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] has been asked to prepare language which may resemble the text of the EU Cosmetics Directive or European Community Directive 86/609, said Catherine Willet, PhD, science policy advisor at PETA.
The 21st century has been a gaining year for those who want end animal testing, with five tests banned in Europe as of 2009. Other aspects of the European cosmetics directive, which does not apply to medicine, food or other chemicals, are still coming into force. For instance, deadlines for animal tests for skin and eye toxicity are in 2013, Willet said.
Another European restriction, directive 86/609, provides that if a non-animal method exists, animals may not be used to test either cosmetics or medical treatments.
“Right now, this represents an opportunity to get new technology in use,” said Willet. “Most testing uses technology from the 1930s, but there’s been a revolution in biology in the last 30 years. We can design tests much more effectively,” she explained.
For instance, L’oreal recently announced a collaboration with Hurel, which has a technique for combining microenzymes with cultures of human cells. “They develop and grow human cells really well in three-dimensional structures tat mimic tissues,” Willet said.
There are hopes that efforts to revise toxic substance testing legislation will drive improvements in the U.S. as well. “In 1976, most chemicals were grandfathered, and the EPA can only ask for information if there is some sign of a problem,” Willet said. This shortfall in TOSCA has led to periodic efforts to reform the rule, such as a proposed amendment in 2008 which did not get any co-sponsors. The latest incarnation, the Kid-Safe Act, is expected to be announced at the ends of February.
PETA hopes that a revision will include more flexible language for testing. “For instance, if instead of saying for every chemical that exists, you have to do a rabbit reproductive test, you could just say, you have to do an evaluation for reproductive toxicity. That kind of language will drive alternative technologies for doing tests,” Willet explained.