On June 22, President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (HR2576), which will limit animal testing and improve chemical safety for humans. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Neal Barnard, M.D., were instrumental in getting members of the House and then the Senate to support and pass the bill. In addition, there was overwhelming support from voters and animal advocates around the country, with more than 80,000 calls and emails received, resulting in 16 Congressional co-sponsors. The bill was first introduced by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) in 2015.
According to Dr. Barnard, this is a “massive, sweeping law. Far fewer animals will be used, better tests, and better protections.” The Lautenberg Act, now known as Public Law No. 114-182, will place restrictions on animal testing, restrictions much stronger than current law. It will go far toward supporting and ensuring the development and adoption of modern non-animal methods, saving hundreds of thousands of animals from unnecessary and inhumane procedures. The bill modernizes testing methods; it replaces and reduces the animal-based tests with human-relevant methods to assess chemical toxicity.
The bill amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and has a multitude of changes to screening and testing procedures. According to the published Summary, the EPA must minimize, to the extent practicable, the use of vertebrate animals in testing chemicals. They must develop a plan to develop and implement alternative test methods and testing strategies to reduce, refine or replace the use of vertebrate animals, as well as fund and carry out research to accelerate the development of those strategies. And this is extremely key: Any person who voluntarily develops information under TSCA must first attempt to develop the information by an alternative or non-animal test method or testing strategy before conducting new animal testing. It is a milestone; not perfect, but a step in the right direction. For a complete text of the new Law, please click here.