Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Wants to End EPA’s Cruel Animal Testing
By Justin Goodman and Nathan Herschler
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress recently pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its "questionable" and "dubious" animal tests. The lawmakers' demand for information on "horrific and inhumane" animal testing at the EPA comes on the heels of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found that high-tech computer models are more effective than animal tests.
But as scientists and elected officials are coming to the same conclusions about the inefficacy and unethical nature of animal testing, the U.S. government is still wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and countless animals' lives for archaic experiments opposed by most Americans. Now lawmakers have an opportunity to stop it, as Congress is currently debating federal agency budgets for 2019.
Recently, White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group committed to ending taxpayer-funded animal experiments, uncovered how a little-known EPA program abuses approximately 20,000 animals annually in outdated air pollution experiments. The tests at the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory include making animals obese by feeding them lard and then forcing them to inhale diesel exhaust and smog to study the effects. In other tests, animals were blasted with loud noises and exposed to ozone, pregnant animals were stressed with light and noise and their babies were given electric shocks.
Following the exposé, our organizations, the White Coat Waste Project and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, along with more than 55,000 Americans, urged Congress to cut funding for these tests and support more productive EPA programs focused on alternatives to animal tests like robotic testing systems and organs-on-chips that the EPA has acknowledged can make testing more cost-effective, accurate and efficient. Yet, a lack of transparency and accountability about the EPA's animal testing and efforts to curb it has prevented much-needed scrutiny, until now.
To their credit, several Republican and Democratic lawmakers quickly sprang into action to address this waste and abuse.
In a recent letter to the EPA, Congressmembers Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), Dan Donovan (R-New York), Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pennsylvania)—lawmakers who are often publicly at odds on other policy issues—demanded details on the EPA's testing, writing, "These tests likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, and their relevance to humans, as EPA has often acknowledged, is dubious at best."
The same day, the House of Representatives passed language championed by Reps. Ken Calvert (R-California), David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) in the EPA's 2019 funding bill, urging the agency to do more to reduce its animal tests and focus on high-tech alternatives to animal testing.
This is important progress, but sadly the EPA is not the only problematic agency using wasteful 100-year-old testing methods to guide 21st century public health policy.
In May, the White Coat Waste Project and the Anti-Vivisection Society released a report titled "Toxic Testing" exposing hundreds of wasteful government animal tests by the National Toxicology Program. The report found that recent Program tests used more than 115,000 animals and 186 million taxpayer dollars, and that high-tech and cost-effective alternatives to animal testing are woefully underused.
One of the outlandish animal testing series documented included 25 million taxpayer dollars and 10 years spent to blast 3,000 animals with cellphone radiation equivalent to 10 iPhones all day, every day, for two years before killing and dissecting them. At the study's conclusion, the National Toxicology Program told The Washington Post, "Given the inconsistent pattern of the findings, the fact that the subjects were rats and mice rather than people and the high level of radiation used, [the study] could not extrapolate from the data the potential health effects on humans." Of course, this information was obvious prior to conducting the research, but they proceeded anyway.
In another troubling set of at least 36 different tests costing around $5 million, the Program force-fed and injected thousands of animals with acrylamide, a by-product in coffee and French fries using, as the National Institutes of Health put it, "doses 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the levels people might be exposed to in foods." Based on these inherently flawed rodent tests, the Program concluded that acrylamide can "reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen."
Yet, the National Cancer Institute—which, like the National Toxicology Program, resides within the Institutes of Health—reports, "a large number of epidemiologic studies … in humans have found no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer." Similarly, the American Cancer Society states that "there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake."
The public health and policy impacts of this misleading animal testing are significant. Based on animal tests of acrylamide by the Program and others, a California court ruled that Starbucks and other coffee sellers must now include cancer warnings on coffee cups, despite there being no evidence of health risks in humans.
This is an issue that bridges the growing left-right divide. Consider the fact that Pulitzer-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald recently retweetedan article from the conservative Daily Caller about the EPA's animal testing, writing, "Disgust and opposition to horrific government experiments on animals is not only growing rapidly, but is becoming bipartisan and trans-ideological." He's right. National polls conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies have recently found that 79 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats want to cut EPA spending on animal tests, and that three-quarters of all voters think federal agencies should be required to replace animal tests with high-tech alternatives whenever possible.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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