Protecting More Than Animals

Reducing animal suffering often has the unexpected benefit of yielding more rigorous safety tests
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For several months in 1999, a fluffy seven-foot bunny with floppy ears and large, doleful eyes chased presidential candidate Al Gore around the campaign trail. Gore's crime: as vice president, he had initiated a chemical toxicity testing program that would cause the suffering or death of close to a million animals. To most observers, though, such a testing program seemed long overdue.

Two years earlier the group now called Environmental Defense had pointed out that adequate information exists on the safety of perhaps only a fourth of 100,000 commonly used chemicals, and both the Environmental Protection Agency and the trade group now known as the American Chemistry Council had come to agree. Gore had brought together all the interested parties--environmental activists, regulators and manufacturers--to initiate a program for performing minimal safety tests on the 2,800 chemicals that the U.S. produced or imported at more than one million pounds a year. A public Web site would post the information obtained...

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