The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just made history by announcing a plan to end wasteful taxpayer-funded animal testing by 2035. This is a huge win, but regulation-happy green groups criticizing the move have made clear that they hate the Trump administration more than they love animals and the environment.
Upon its release, the EPA's landmark proposal was welcomed by animal-loving taxpayer advocates like us, as well as industry leaders, animal advocates, and scientists because it will eliminate wasteful and misleading animal tests that reduce consumer access to safe products, cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually, handcuff industry, and needlessly harm animals. The news even united lawmakers at far opposite ends of the political spectrum like Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen who worked together with White Coat Waste Project to expose the EPA's animal tests last year.
Bloomberg's Adam Allington tweeted, "In a rare moment of accord, the Trump EPA has done something many progressives can get behind — Setting a fairly ambitious plan to phase out chemical testing on animals."
But not all progressives are cheering. In response to the EPA's announcement, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) voiced partisan outrage, alleging: "Trump Administration Guts Collection of Data on Toxic Chemicals." NRDC alleges that without animal studies, it would be "much harder to identify toxic chemicals — and protect human health." How so?
Animal testing represents the dark-ages of regulatory policy. It was more relevant when our tools to measure risk were primitive, but today's technology allows much more precise ways to evaluate real-world risks. Researchers have repeatedly shown that 21st century technologies based on human biology — not crude and contrived tests in which rabbits, dogs and other animals are forced to swallow and breathe massive doses of chemicals — are best at predicting health effects in humans. Because of the inherent uncertainty of extrapolating from results on animals to humans, it is necessary to build in huge safety factors for human exposure.
But now, with more accurate scientific methods, we no longer need to rely on animal studies and the precautionary regulatory limits we had to accept a generation ago. Better precision will allow us to safely benefit from advanced chemistry such as the use of silicones which are essential to environmentally-friendly technologies such as modern energy-efficient lighting.
So why would environmental activists, who we'd think have an affinity towards animals, be up in arms over the move? We have a theory.
It's that these activists are so hell-bent on banning synthetic chemicals that they are willing to support outmoded risk analysis tools to achieve their political agenda, even if it requires torturing animals.
An NRDC staffer told reporters about the modern non-animal tests, "If the tests themselves are not indicating a toxic effect, then EPA is presuming there is no toxic effect." So, even though these new technologies are more accurate at predicting human risks, the greens apparently prefer the animal tests precisely because of the uncertainty they introduce, which can delay or prevent safe products from coming to market.
Last year, based on misleading animal testing, a California judge ordered Starbucks and other coffee sellers in the state to put cancer warnings on coffee. But it turned out the results were irrelevant to humans, for whom normal amounts of coffee consumption is safe, and the warning was called off.
Warning about a product when risks are not well-understood is prudent. But it would be absurd to continue to warn after the best science tells us there's nothing to worry about, like in the case of 1,000 studies showing coffee is safe for humans and actually has health benefits. That's exactly what environmentalists want.
Why? They have an extreme agenda that seeks to eliminate as many synthetic chemicals as possible based on an unscientific view that synthetic chemicals are killing the earth. So to gain broader public support, they've long feasted on uncertainty about human health allegations to build support for their anti-chemical ideology. But with better regulatory science now available, the ploy is no longer viable.
The move should please just about everyone except for extremists. A 2018 national poll found that 79 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats want to cut EPA's animal testing.
Scientific innovation, appropriate regulation and bold leadership can resolve some of the world's most intractable problems — and advance a more civil society at the same time.
Opposition to the EPA's embrace of better regulatory science exposes the true colors of the radical green groups: they are willing to needlessly sacrifice not only animals, but scientific advances themselves, in order to achieve their narrow agenda.
Anthony Bellotti is president and founder at the nonprofit White Coat Waste Project. Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.