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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Toxicity testing: the need for new maps for the future

AtlaWriting in the editorial of the latest edition of FRAME’s scientific journal ATLA (Alternatives to Laboratory Animals) Professor Michael Balls says that toxicity testing is being driven forward with no clear sense of direction, and he believes it is on the wrong path.


He said: “The toxicity testing juggernaut is pressing on regardless, in face of mounting and incontrovertible evidence that the direction in which it is heading is wrong.”


He says the animal procedures currently in use to comply with regulations do not reliably predict what happens in humans, and yet legislators continue to ask for them.


There are two main reasons for the lack of accuracy: animals and humans are too different; and the doses applied in testing are unrealistically high to give a clear indication of the likely affects in actual usage.

In addition, not all humans react in the same way to the same substance, and they are exposed to many different chemicals in normal life that can change the effects.


Professor Balls said: “All that has to be said, has been said – over and over again – but recognition of the fundamental problems seems to be avoided in many quarters, and animal procedures look like remaining the unreliable foundation on which important decisions about human health and its protection will be made, for many years to come.”


Full test of the editorial is available here.