US EPA plans to end animal testing by 2035

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This undated photo shows two mice. (File photo: Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its plan to end required animal tests for chemical safety, a move expected to improve the animal welfare.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a directive Tuesday to reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammal studies by 30 percent by 2025 and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035.

Any mammal studies requested or funded by EPA after 2035 will require administrator approval on a case by case basis, according to EPA.

Wheeler said the agency will award $4.25 million to several US universities, including Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Oregon State University and University of California Riverside, to research alternative test methods, like computer modeling and in-vitro testing.

Animal rights groups lauded the decision. Amy Clippinger, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement: "PETA is celebrating the EPA's decision to protect animals certainly, but also humans and the environment, by switching from cruel and scientifically flawed animal tests in favor of modern, non-animal testing methods."

However, some groups criticized EPA's move as they are concerned that there are not enough alternative testing methods, so it largely benefits chemical companies.

"Phasing out foundational scientific testing methods can make it much harder to identify toxic chemicals -- and protect human health," said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist for the Healthy People and Thriving Communities program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.