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Friday, July 6, 2012

WWF and animal testing

WWF and animal testing

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been actively pressuring government agencies in the United States, Europe, and Canada to greatly increase the amount of testing that they require for new and existing chemicals and pesticides. The result of the WWF’s lobbying has been the establishment of what threaten to be the largest animal-testing programs of all time.

The WWF was the driving force in pressuring the U.S. Congress to legislate the screening of chemicals for “endocrine (hormone) disrupting” effects and has subsequently been heavily involved in establishing the framework for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) massive chemical-testing program now under development. As its Web site points out: “WWF invested substantial resources in the EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee,” which “agreed upon a set of tests to form the foundation for the screening and testing program.” What the WWF neglects to mention, however, is that 10 of the 15 recommended screens and tests are animal-poisoning studies, some of which kill hundreds or thousands of animals at a time. According to scientific estimates, the WWF-backed endocrine testing program will kill up to 1.2 million animals for every 1,000 chemicals tested, and with the EPA currently proposing to retest many tens of thousands of chemicals under this program, the toll in animal suffering and death could be staggering. The WWF is also pressuring government agencies in Europe to embark on a similar animal-testing program.

Because of pressure from environmental groups like the WWF, the EPA is forging ahead with the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program without taking the time to carefully consider the logistics and practical uses of the testing plan. There are already large amounts of data about the toxicity and even the hormone-disrupting effects of many of the chemicals that the EPA proposes to test in Phase I. Many of the animal tests that the EPA proposes are redundant, poorly defined, and inadequately validated. Even if the EPA could successfully perform the proposed testing and interpret the results—both of which are unlikely—it has no plan for how this information would actually be used to assess or mitigate risks to humans or the environment.

Unfortunately, the “endocrine disruptor” issue is not an isolated example. The WWF has been a major force in pressuring the European Union to amend its Chemicals Policy to require companies to test and retest as many as 30,000 new and existing chemicals. The British Institute for Environmental Health has estimated that this process could kill upwards of 45 million animals if the standard battery of animal-poisoning tests is used. The WWF’s U.S. and Canadian offices are also calling for more testing of pesticides, despite the fact that more than 9,000 animals are already killed for every pesticide on the market. In particular, the WWF has called for certain pesticides to be tested for “developmental neurotoxicity” (DNT) using a test that kills upwards of 1,300 animals each time it is conducted. This test has been heavily criticized by scientists, including the EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel, which concluded that “the exposure of rat fetus/pups was not shown to be equivalent to human fetus/infant during equivalent stages of brain development” and that “the current form of the DNT guideline is not a sensitive indicator of toxicity to the offspring.” In other words, the WWF is calling for thousands of animals to be killed in a test that scientists admit is not relevant to humans!

In its defense, the WWF says that “in the absence of effective, validated alternatives, WWF believes that limited animal testing is needed for the long-term protection of wildlife and people throughout the world.” However, there is nothing “limited” about the massive amount of animal testing that the WWF is endorsing. Dr. Joshua Lederberg, Nobel Laureate in Medicine, pointed out in 1981: “It is simply not possible with all the animals in the world to go through chemicals in the blind way we have at the present time, and reach credible conclusions about the hazards to human health.” Now more than 20 years later, millions of animals are still dying in agonizing chemical toxicity tests, and we are no closer to getting dangerous chemicals out of the environment. The WWF has put considerable effort into encouraging the adoption of regulations in Europe that would curb the production of toxic chemicals and people's exposure to them. But in the U.S., the WWF has made little effort to develop or support regulations that would limit exposure. In fact, despite killing hundreds of thousands of animals in painful chemical toxicity tests, the EPA has not banned a single toxic industrial chemical in more than a decade! Instead of focusing its efforts on killing more animals in a misguided attempt to protect the environment, the WWF should focus on ways to develop protective regulations in the U.S.

http://www.wickedwildlifefund.com/test.html
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PETA


April 24, 2000–The WWF spearheads a joint letter to U.S. senators and representatives challenging PETA’s opposition to the EPA’s massive animal-testing program known as the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. (Click here to read the letter.) (PDF Format)

2000–The WWF’s European Toxics Program pushes for “numerous suspected substances” to be tested for hormonal effects using a two-generation reproduction toxicity study, which kills more than 2,500 animals per chemical tested. (Click here to read the WWF’s comments.) (PDF Format)

March 6, 2001–PETA writes to the president of the WWF-US to outline our concerns about animal testing and to urge the WWF to sign onto a statement calling for more funding for non-animal test method development and the use of only scientifically validated test methods. (Click here to read PETA’s letter, statement, and background paper.) (PDF Format)

April 5, 2001–The head of the WWF’s Global Toxics Program responds to PETA’s letter but refuses to endorse our statement, claiming, “Until we can come up with a better alternative, we sometimes have little choice but to test chemicals on laboratory animals.” (Click here to read the WWF’s letter.) (PDF Format)

December 27, 2001–PETA launches MeanGreenies.com and gives the WWF a grade of “F” on its “report card” of environmental groups’ positions on animal testing.

February 13, 2002–The WWF calls on the EPA to “require a developmental neurotoxicity study for pesticides that cause hypothyroidism.” Such studies kill upwards of 1,300 animals for every chemical tested. (Click here to read the WWF’s comments, and click here to read PETA’s DNT Factsheet.) (PDF Format)

May 1, 2002–In a presentation to Canada’s Standing Committee on Health, the WWF pushes Canada to bring its pesticide regulations more into line with those of the U.S.–stating that “reviews must consider a sufficient range of health and environmental effects of pesticides”–which is just a veiled way of calling for more animal testing.

August 30, 2002–PETA writes again to the WWF, urging the organization to endorse our non-animal strategy for testing chemicals for hormonal effects. (Click hereto read PETA’s letter.) (PDF Format)

September 20, 2002–The WWF issues an “Answer to PETA’s Accusations” and a formal “Animal Testing Policy.” (Click here to read the WWF’s rebuttal and click here to view its “Animal Testing Policy.”) (PDF Format)

October 4, 2002–The WWF’s director general writes to PETA President Ingrid Newkirk regarding PETA’s alleged “misrepresentation of WWF’s views on animal testing.” (Click here to read the WWF’s letter.) (PDF Format)

October 10, 2002–Friend of animals and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney tells the WWF that it has “strayed off course by supporting [animal testing] and should do everything in its power to rectify the situation.” (Click here to read Sir Paul’s letter.)

October 11, 2002–PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, fires back a hard-hitting response to the WWF’s director general. (Click here to read PETA’s letter.) (PDFFormat)

October 23, 2002–The results of a massive animal-poisoning experiment are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and the WWF is acknowledged as a financial supporter of this research. (Click here to read the article’s abstract and acknowledgments.) (PDF Format)

March 24, 2003–Sir Paul McCartney writes a second letter to the WWF, once again urging the organization to turn its back on animal testing. (Click here to read the letter.)

April 1, 2003–The WWF takes its first step forward by submitting comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to “rely to the fullest extent possible on validated non-animal screens and tests. … Where such tests are not yet available, WWF believes EPA ought to invest in their development as a matter of priority, and that Congress should increase funding to speed this important transition.” (Click here to view the WWF’s comments.) (PDF Format)

April 8, 2003–The WWF’s director general responds to Sir Paul’s letter, advising him that the WWF would be ending its dialogue and efforts to cooperate with PETA. (Click here to read the WWF’s letter.) (PDF Format)

April 21, 2003–PETA’s senior vice president responds to the WWF’s letter to Sir Paul. (Click here to read PETA’s letter.) (PDF Format)

August 5, 2003–PETA again writes to the WWF. (Click here to read the letter.) (PDF Format)

August 5, 2004–PETA writes to the WWF for clarification regarding its new claim to oppose "all outdated and unnecessary animal testing." (Click here to read the letter.) (PDF Format).

WWF Fables and Facts (Click here to read PETA’s rebuttal to the WWF’s misleading claims.) (PDF Format)

“PETA Says No to Animal Testing” (Click here to read the article by PETA’s federal agency liaison from the Fall 2002 issue of the Earth Island Journal.) (PDF Format)

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