Animal Groups Applaud Federal Commitment to Reduce Toxicity Testing on Animals

TORONTO – Animal Justice, Humane Canada, and the Society for Humane Science are applauding a proposed overhaul of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The amendments promise a national shift away from painful toxicity tests on animals, and government support for developing alternatives to animal testing.

As one of Canada’s most important federal environmental protection laws, CEPA focuses on protecting Canadians and the environment from exposure to harmful substances that are ubiquitous in modern society.

Tragically, scientific research to assess the environmental and health risks posed by chemicals often involves testing on animals. In fact, toxicity testing is the most harmful and painful use of animals in scientific research. Many toxicity tests, impacting approximately 90,000 animals per year in Canada, fall into “Category E”—the most severe category of harm that animals can experience, according to the Canadian Council on Animal Care. Category E tests cause death, severe pain, and extreme distress and may include procedures such as inflicting burns or trauma on unanesthetized animals, and forced ingestion or topical application of deadly substances.

“Countless animals are subjected to painful and unnecessary toxicity tests every year in Canada,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, staff lawyer with Animal Justice. “Animal Justice applauds the government’s commitment to reducing reliance on outdated and unreliable animal toxicity testing models. Canada should ultimately eliminate these painful experiments entirely, while supporting research into alternative models that are safer, more reliable, and cruelty-free.”

“Animal testing is often a poor predictor of human outcomes,” said Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy, executive director of the Society for Humane Science. “Non-animal testing methods are becoming increasingly available, and are often more reliable, as well as more time- and cost-effective.”

The groups are also calling on the federal government to fund the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM) at the University of Windsor. CCAAM is the first centre of its kind in Canada, dedicated to developing and validating animal-free research innovations such as cultured tissues, computer models, and organs-on-a-chip. 

Eliminating the needless use of animals in testing is a matter of great importance to Canadians. Polling shows that at least 61% of Canadians believe it is morally wrong to use animals in medical experiments.

A global shift away from animal testing is underway. When the European Union and United States strengthened their toxics laws, regulators also took action to require non-animal methods to be developed, validated, and adopted and introduced requirements aimed at eliminating unnecessary toxicity testing on animals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has committed to reducing its requests for, and funding of, mammal studies by 30% by 2025, and to ending the use of toxicity testing on mammals entirely by 2035. 

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For more information, contact:
 
Kaitlyn Mitchell
Staff Lawyer, Animal Justice
kmitchell@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Our lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push to hold industries accountable for abusing animals, and fight for animals in court. Visit www.animaljustice.ca to learn more.

Humane Canada™ is the federation of humane societies and SPCAs and the national voice for animal welfare. As Canada’s voice for animal welfare, we drive positive, progressive change to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals. Learn more at www.humanecanada.ca

The Canadian Society for Humane Science is Canada’s first and only registered national charity working to achieve better science without animals through education and policy reform. Learn more at www.forhumanescience.org.