President Barack Obama signed a new law last week that will set unprecedented protections for animals by restricting animal testing and requiring regulators to develop new technology-based alternatives. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act updates the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, forces non-animal tests to be used whenever possible, and establishes a precedent for the developing of animal-free testing, such as in vitro and in silico methods. “The Lautenberg Act is a meaningful step forward for public safety because it promotes superior, human-relevant chemical test methods over slow, costly and unreliable tests on animals,” Kristie Sullivan, MPH, vice president of toxicology for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said. Eighty-nine-year-old New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg had begun efforts to overhaul the “deeply flawed” 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act but passed away in 2013 before being able to complete his work. Vegan senator Cory Booker was elected to take Lautenberg’s place on the Senate that year, and continued with Lautenberg’s work, joining a number of other senators to bring the act before President Obama to be signed into law. Just this year, John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Brazil’s second largest state both made strides in removing animals from medical training and cosmetic testing.
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