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Administrator Wheeler Signs Memo to Reduce Animal Testing, Awards $4.25 Million to Advance Research on Alternative Methods to Animal Testing

09/10/2019
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a directive to prioritize efforts to reduce animal testing. Administrator Wheeler also announced $4.25 million in funding to five universities to research the development and use of alternative test methods and strategies that reduce, refine, and/or replace vertebrate animal testing.

“Today’s memo directs the agency to aggressively reduce animal testing, including reducing mammal study requests and funding 30% by 2025 and completely eliminating them by 2035,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “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.”

In the memo, Administrator Wheeler calls for the agency to aggressively pursue a reduction in animal testing. The memo states, EPA will reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammal studies by 30% by 2025 and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035. Any mammal studies requested or funded by EPA after 2035 will require administrator approval on a case by case basis. It directs leadership and staff in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and the Office of Research and Development to prioritize ongoing efforts and to direct existing resources toward additional activities that will demonstrate measurable impacts in the reduction of animal testing while ensuring protection of human health and the environment.

In accordance with the memo, EPA will hold an annual conference on new approach methods beginning in 2019.

To read the full memo, visit https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/administrator-memo-prioritizing-efforts-reduce-animal-testing-september-20-2019.

Members of Congress and other stakeholders have the following to say:

 “I am thrilled to hear that the EPA is greatly reducing its reliance on animal tests, and promoting non-animal-based research at universities. Animal testing is often cruel and painful, with limited applicability to human health outcomes. Non-animal research is more accurate, more cost effective, and more humane. I commend the EPA for their decision, and hope other departments and agencies will soon follow suit,” said Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01).

“As a long-time animal welfare advocate, I applaud the EPA’s efforts to reduce testing on animals. For years I have pushed for humane alternatives to animal testing, so to see EPA take this step is incredibly rewarding. I thank EPA for recognizing that we can protect animals and taxpayers by curbing the use of animals in research projects where scientifically-proven alternatives are readily available,” said Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42).

“White Coat Waste Project and its over 2 million supporters applaud Administrator Wheeler and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for unveiling the most comprehensive and aggressive plan in U.S. history to cut wasteful animal testing, a move supported by a supermajority of Americans from all parties,” said Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of 2-million-member taxpayer watchdog White Coat Waste Project. “The Trump Administration has shown outstanding leadership to curb unnecessary taxpayer-funded animal tests and this development at the EPA is another remarkable win for animals, taxpayers, industry and the environment.”

“Under Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, EPA continues to forge a pathway to end decades of reliance on conventional animal tests as predictors of risk to humans and our environment. By setting bold goals for EPA-related testing, the agency can help drive science forward - creating a more humane and predictive paradigm for chemical safety assessments,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We ask the Congress, the regulated industry and other key stakeholders to join together in support of this key initiative.”

"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, non-animal 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, non-animal testing approaches and working toward a day when all animal tests are only found in history books."

“Physicians Committee members have supported the replacement of toxicity tests on animals for many years,” said Kristie Sullivan, MPH, vice president for research policy at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “We have been pleased to see the progress EPA has made to adopt newer and better test methods, and we are excited to witness the agency making a commitment to move more fully towards nonanimal tests that will better protect human health and the environment.”

In addition to the memo, five universities were awarded grants through the agency’s Science to Achieve Results Program. The research focuses on advancing the development and use of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine, and/or replace vertebrate animal testing. The grantees are advancing the science of non-vertebrate alternative test methods and strategies in chemical hazard assessment.

Grantees include:

  • Johns Hopkins University to develop a human-derived brain model to assess the mechanism by which environmental chemicals might cause developmental neurotoxicity.
  • Vanderbilt University to test their organ-on-a-chip to study the blood brain barrier and potential brain injury after organophosphate exposure.
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center to use their Endo Chip technology to research how preexisting diseases affect cellar responses to environmental toxicants with a focus on reproductive disorders in women.
  • Oregon State University to develop in vitro test methods for fish species to screen chemicals in complex environmental mixtures.
  • University of California Riverside to use human cells to develop a cost-effective endpoint to characterize potential skeletal embryotoxicants.

For more information on EPA’s grant recipients, visit https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/642/records_per_page/ALL.