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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Comment: Ecotoxicity Testing: Science, Politics and Ethics


Colin H. Walker

Animal welfare organisations have long been concerned about the use of animals for ecotoxicity testing. Ecotoxicity testing is a necessary part of the statutory risk assessment of chemicals that may be released into the environment. It is sometimes also carried out during the development of new chemicals and in the investigation of pollution in the field. This review considers the existing requirements for ecotoxicity testing, with particular reference to practices in the European Union, including the recent REACH system proposals, before discussing criticisms that have been made of existing practices for environmental risk assessment. These criticisms have been made on scientific and ethical grounds, as well as on questions of cost. A case is made for greater investment in the development of alternative testing methods, which could improve the science, as well as serving the cause of animal welfare. It has frequently been suggested that the statutory requirements for environmental risk assessment are too rigid and bureaucratic. A case is made for flexibility and the greater involvement of scientists in the risk assessment procedure, in the interests of both improved science and improved animal welfare.

Full text pdf 36(1), 103-112