Uncovering the Reality of Animal Use in "Toxic Testing"

The Rise for Animals Team, May 23, 2018

On May 16th, NEAVS and White Coat Waste Project (WCW) hosted a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill and released a new report, “Toxic Testing.” This report, also a collaborative effort, exposes hundreds of cruel, wasteful and outdated tests performed on animals by the National Toxicity Program (NTP).

Since our very own Jessica Dickard, Program Associate, was one of the report’s authors, we chatted with her about the experience and what she hopes people will learn from the report:

1. Tell us a little about the report’s creation and how you and Justin Goodman [from White Coat Waste Project, based in D.C.] collaborated.  

Last year, WCW exposed the National Toxicology Program’s taxpayer-funded animal tests, so this report (“Toxic Testing”) is an important extension of that effort, and it’s also an example of how NEAVS is working closely with WCW to pass the Federal Accountable Chemical Testing (FACT) Act.

The FACT Act is a bi-partisan bill, which would require government agencies to report on things such as an animal test’s total cost and the number of animals used. Details like these are needed if we are to improve accountability and transparency within agencies.

Working with Justin was great—I learned so much from him and it was a valuable experience being at the briefing in-person. This report was a lot of work but I’m really proud of the finished product and I hope people will take the time to read it.

2. Where did the majority of the information in “Toxic Testing” come from?  

NTP’s website was the first place we started gathering information. It gave us critical information such as the list of substances to be tested and the species of animals used.

However, many important details including cost and number of animals, had to be obtained from secondary sources. In fact, the need for secondary sources only reinforces our point that the level of information being reported is insufficient.

3. In terms of report highlights, which one stands out to you the most and why?

“Toxic Testing” has several great findings, but the highlights that really stand out to me are the ones that reflect the inadequate use of non-animal alternatives. The fact that “only 1 out of 103 (.97%) yet-to-be-conducted NTP tests use a non-animal method” is mind-blowing. Even though NTP says their goal is to replace and reduce the number of animal tests, this report’s findings point to stagnation.

4. The conclusion of the report offers several recommendations. How would you rank them in terms of prioritization and why?

Yes, this report offers up five recommendations. Although they’re all essential, I would say the third recommendation is critical (“halt planned NTP animal testing and commission an independent audit to identify opportunities to avoid wasteful animal use”). I expect the audit’s outcome would pressure the government to restrict funding from animal testing, and redirect funding toward the development and use of non-animal alternatives.  Of course, the first recommendation, passage of the FACT Act, would ensure all Agencies were in compliance with providing the detailed reporting needed—including the exact amount of taxpayer money spent and how many animals were used in each test.