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Toxicology

US EPA proposes to waive pesticide toxicity test on birds

Agency claims other required tests are sufficient to evaluate avian risks

by Britt E. Erickson
September 19, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 37

09737-polcon2-mallard.jpg
Credit: Shutterstock
The EPA's proposal to waive the use of a toxicity test for pesticides would save hundreds of birds, such as the mallard duck, each year.

Pesticide manufacturers will no longer have to conduct a test in which chemicals are fed to waterfowl or upland game birds for 5 days to determine whether the substances are toxic to them, under a proposal announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 17.

The agency claims that the test is unnecessary because another test, in which a single dose of a pesticide is given to a song bird and either an upland game bird or a waterfowl, is sufficient to evaluate risks of the pesticide to birds.

Waterfowl include species such as mallard ducks. Upland game birds include northern bobwhite quail.

The EPA based its decision on a review conducted in collaboration with the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The reviewers examined 119 pesticides that entered the US market between 1998 and 2017. They found no risks determined using the 5-day test that were not determined using the single-dose test (Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 2019, DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2019.03.013).

Waiving the 5-day test on birds “will save time, taxpayer money, and hundreds of birds each year without compromising environmental health,” Amy Clippinger, president of the PETA International Science Consortium, which advocates for nonanimal testing, says in a statement.

The EPA’s announcement comes 1 week after the agency announced its intent to eliminate the use of animals in toxicity testing by 2035. The EPA is accepting comments on the pesticide proposal until Nov. 1.

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