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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to implement non-animal testing methods, PETA reports. The new initiative will “save countless animals’ lives”, PETA commented, and will bring society “closer to ending tests on animals altogether”.

Documents of the proposed plan were published online in draft form. According to the drafted plan, changes in testing rely heavily on the development of new approach methodologies (NAMs). NAMs refer to any non-animal approach, including technologies and methodologies, that can be used to accurately provide information on chemical hazards and risk assessment.

The Strategic Plan draft operates in three core components, the document explains. These include developing NAMs, building confidence that these NAMs are reliable and relevant, and implementing these into practise. Though in its draft form, the Strategic Plan has noted a long-term goal of completely eradicating vertebrate animal testing. Vertebrate animals most commonly used in testing include cats, rabbits, rats, mice, primates, donkeys, horses and dogs.

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This move would more closely align product testing methods with consumer preference. Previous data shows that a majority (72%) of consumers believe that testing cosmetics on animals is “inhumane or unethical”.

As well as being the undesirable option for consumers, animal testing is believed to be ineffective. PETA previously stated that experiments on animals fail 90% of the time. An article by Forbes revealed that testing cosmetics on animals only predicted human reactions 40 to 60% of the time. Similarly, an organisation working to develop methods to better understand and prevent breast cancer, stated that animal-free research “has the best chance of success”. They added: “Human disease can only be examined properly using human tissue”.

Researchers working alongside PETA have spent over three decades developing “modern, humane, non-animal test methods”. Reportedly, the validity of these was testified before Congress and discussed with the White House.

PETA commented that the EPA’s decision to investigate animal-free research represents an important shift. The group explained that “this is the same agency that once thought it was OK to test chemical weapon components and explosives on animals”.

The animal rights organisation is naming the progress a “victory” and a “win for animals”.