California Senate Committee Approves Bill To Update Aquatic Toxicity Testing Guidelines
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FROM Physicians Committee
July 2019

"This sounds like potentially very good news, although if they are suggesting using fish embryos how much better it would be could depend on how sentient the embryos are... 'This bill requires DTSC to evaluate the Fish Embryo Test (FET) and other potential alternatives to reduce and replace live fish in hazardous waste testing.'"

AB 733, which would allow California to spare live fish from lethal toxicity tests, was unanimously passed by the California Senate Committee on Environmental Quality today. Authored by Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), AB 733 would compel the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to evaluate and implement alternative “aquatic toxicity tests.” DTSC establishes hazardous waste testing guidelines for manufacturers, which determine whether materials should be classified as toxic. The current standard deposits live fish in tanks with potentially toxic materials. If the fish die, the materials are deemed “hazardous waste.”

This bill requires DTSC to evaluate the Fish Embryo Test (FET) and other potential alternatives to reduce and replace live fish in hazardous waste testing. These alternatives are more humane and are accepted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international authority which sets harmonized chemical testing guidelines.

“Humane methods for classifying hazardous waste are utilized around the world, and this bill will direct the DTSC to do what is right for animals and the environment,” said Assembly Member Quirk. “There is no question that we need to protect our environment from hazardous materials. But there is no reason why we can’t choose to do so by using globally accepted tests that are cruelty-free.”

AB 733 is co-sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

“The test is archaic and cruel and entirely unnecessary given that there are a number of alternative, more humane tests that can produce the same results,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation, a leading political animal advocacy group creating and changing laws to support animal rights, protection, and welfare in California and beyond. “Live vertebrate tests that choke fish with toxic waste just need to be eliminated. Private corporations have moved in this direction, thanks to California’s no animal testing commitment. It’s about time that this state agency – tasked with protecting California’s people and the environment – catches up.”

“We are proud to co-sponsor this legislation and look forward to working with the DTSC to modernize their regulations,” said Kristie Sullivan, MPH, toxicologist and vice president of research policy for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Protecting California’s environment and wildlife is important, and doing it with more modern, humane tools is something everyone can support.”

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