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WASHINGTON, U.S.: Although dental experiments on animals have been met with criticism, including welfare concerns and doubts regarding scientific validity, researchers still often use animal models in periodontal and periimplant research. In an effort to reduce testing on animals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler has recently signed a directive that calls for prioritization of scientifically proven alternatives to animal testing.
At the beginning of the year, Dental Tribune International published two articles (“Animal rights activists sign petition against dental implant experiments involving dogs”; “University of Gothenburg euthanises dogs after dental implant experiments”) in which it inquired into the dental experiments on dogs that had been taking place in Sweden at the time. Many animal rights activists used the media coverage the experiments received to raise awareness of the issue and to promote the use of alternative methods to animal testing.
According to a memo issued by Wheeler, the EPA has been continuously making efforts to reduce testing on animals and has saved over 200,000 laboratory animals in recent years. In the memo, Wheeler stated that he believes that today’s scientific advancements make it easier to move away from traditional methods that rely heavily on animal testing. Therefore, the EPA ought to make sustained efforts and direct its resources toward activities that will help reduce animal testing and ensure human health and environmental protection.
“Today’s memo directs the agency to aggressively reduce animal testing, including reducing mammal study requests and funding by 30% by 2025 and completely eliminating them by 2035,” Wheeler said. “We are also awarding $4.25 million to advance the research and development of alternative test methods for evaluating the safety of chemicals that will minimize, and hopefully eliminate, the need for animal testing.”
The directive has been applauded by members of Congress and organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF).
“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, nonanimal testing methods,” said Dr. Amy Clippinger, director of PETA’s regulatory testing department. “PETA will be helping regulatory agencies and companies switch to efficient and effective, nonanimal testing approaches and working toward a day when all animal tests are only found in history books.”
“We ask the Congress, the regulated industry and other key stakeholders to join together in support of this key initiative,” said Sara Amundson, President of HSLF.
According to recent research that assessed studies that used animals, the dental scientific community is demonstrating a growing awareness of the range of concerns around animal testing. Scholars are increasingly questioning not only the ethicality of such experiments but also the applicability of the results to humans.
The memo on the directive can be found here.
The study, titled “Animal experiments in periodontal and peri-implant research: Are there any changes?,” was published online on May 1, 2019, in Dentistry Journal.