Like many government agencies and private companies, the EPA relies on animal testing to gauge the safety of chemicals used in commercial products and pesticides.
Cats and dogs are common test subjects
The tests are designed to see if chemicals or new products pose any risk to humans or the natural environment.
It's estimated around 26million animals are used as test subjects every year in the USA. According to animal welfare charity PETA, test animals are often burned, starved, blinded, electrocuted, exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, and pumped full of experimental drugs.Labs tend to use primates, mice, rabbits, cats, and dogs in the experiments, which often cause unimaginable suffering. What's more, campaigners argue that much of the testing is inaccurate and ineffective.
The EPA is the first government agency to put a hard deadline on ending animal tests, and the news was well-received by animal rights activists.
Justin Goodman is the vice president at the White Coat Waste Project, an activist group that has slammed animal testing as a waste of taxpayer money. He said:
"This is a decisive win for taxpayers, animals, and the environment...animal tests are unreliable and misleading."
But not everybody welcomed the EPA announcement, with some stating that the decision will put human lives at risk. Senior scientist Jennifer Sass argued:
"Ending animal testing is going to allow potentially dangerous chemicals to get out there into the environment and into consumer products."
Is it time to look at the alternatives?
Critics responded by saying that recent technologic advancements in computer-testing and test-tube modelling means that the same experiment can now be done without using animals.
We're no experts when it comes to science, but we're certainly animal lovers. And with more options now on the table, surely it's time to give them a try and hopefully end animal testing forever?