We respect the work that animal rights and animal welfare organizations have done over the years to support alternatives to animal testing, but there are two issues that still divide us.
Is animal testing needed?
As reflected in recent reports by the US National Academy of Sciences and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee, the state of the science clearly indicates that, unfortunately, testing on a limited number of laboratory animals (rodents, fish, shrimp and earthworms) is still necessary to prevent even greater harm to our ecosystems and the animals and humans that live in them.
We do not support animal testing except in those cases where it provides information that is critical to understanding and preventing potential harm to humans, animals and the environment; and where there are not yet alternatives accepted by the scientific community.
Is animal testing ethically acceptable where it is needed?
We respect the values that lead some people to oppose animal testing, and recognize the deeply held conviction of some that humans do not have the right to use living creatures for human purposes, however vital those purposes may be. We admire that position, but we do not share it. As long as (and only as long as) current scientific research indicates that limited animal testing is still necessary to avoid greater harm, we believe that it is ethical.
DDT, PCBs, asbestos, and leaded gasoline are just a few examples where more up-front testing would have prevented significant ecological, animal, and human harm.
Environmental Defense Fund was founded by scientists concerned about animal welfare – specifically the eagles and ospreys that were being harmed by the spraying of the pesticide DDT. Now we are working to ensure that similar kinds of unintended consequences are prevented.
We will continue to support the development of alternatives to animal testing, and will remain indebted to those who are watching closely to make sure that we do.