A May 2018 study has found the National Toxicology Program uses animals in 82% of its tests, “subjecting countless animal to painful procedures with little relevance to human health”.
The National Toxicology Program or NTP is a federal agency within the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and is a partner with Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. NTP is tasked with coordinating studies of substances that could present potential harm to the public. NTP is also supposed to “develop and implement modern testing technologies that reduce animal use”. NTP’s budget was $131 million in FY 2016.
The report issued by White Coat Waste Project and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, finds, however, that NTP’s “testing practices …are not keeping pace with technological advances”. The report found that in 48% of NTP’s most common current chemical tests, at least 115,000 animals were used at a cost of $186 million. The number of animals used in all current tests is likely 200,000 at a cost of $250 billion. Less than half (48%) of chemicals currently under assessment by NTP have non animal tests planned; all have animal tests planned.
The most common animal tests involve “administering massive, human irrelevant doses” by “force-feeding, forced inhalation, injection, spiked food and water, and application to their bare skin, including to pregnant animals and their offspring”. Animals “used in these poisoning tests are typically not provided with any pain relief”. In one test on acrylamide, a by-product of roasting coffee and baking and frying starchy foods like French fries and potato chips, NTP gave the chemical to mice and rats in “‘doses 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the levels people might be exposed to in foods'”. NTP found “‘clear evidence'” acrylamide causes cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports, however, that based on epidemiological studies in humans, there is no consistent evidence the dietary exposure acrylamide causes cancer.
Another pointless, cruel, and costly NTP animal study involved testing cell phone radiation on 3,000 animals over 10 years at a cost of $25 million. The levels of exposure to radiation were more than 10 times that of the highest cell phone use. Even the NTP concluded, “So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage”.
The Weekly Standard recently questioned why the government continues to support “cruel, ineffective, and expensive” animal testing when private industry in the case of cosmetics in particular has “abandoned” it.
The report recommends enactment of the bipartisan Federal Accountability in Chemical Testing (FACT), H.R. 816, to improve progress reporting by NTP and other agencies about efforts to reduce animal use in toxicity testing, redirect funds for animal tests to development and use of non animal alternatives, halt animal studies by NTP pending an independent audit, restrict funding for animal testing at all agencies, and increase transparency of the costs of animal testing.
White Coat Waste Project and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society presented the report in a bipartisan briefing hosted by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA).
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Call or send a post card to your U.S. representative and urge him/her to support the FACT Act, H.R. 816 and also restrict funding for animal testing at NTP and other agencies. Find your U.S. representative here.