PETA International Science Consortium, Ltd. (PISC), represents the interests of its members and their individual supporters. It applies, co-ordinates and directs its members’ scientific and regulatory expertise to the promotion of reliable and relevant strategies to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the use of animals in experiments. PISC provides technical support to companies and researchers seeking to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animal tests, and advises its members with regard to providing financial support to companies to achieve this common goal.
In addition to assisting research organisations and private industries in the development of best practices, PISC interacts with national and international regulatory bodies and standards organisations to ensure that opportunities exist to increase and harmonise the use of validated nonanimal test methods. PISC engages with a number of regulatory bodies, including but not limited to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority in Europe, the Health and Safety Executive in the UK, and the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. This engagement involves participation in expert working groups, accredited stakeholder status, including ESTAF, the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) Stakeholder Forum, submission of comments on regulatory initiatives, direct communication and lobbying as appropriate.
An area of primary concern is the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances) regulation. This extensive project includes working with ECHA and the European Commission regarding the use of animals as a last resort, as well as liaising with companies to ensure that they are familiar with and implement validated alternatives to animal testing. One area of focus is the incorporation of the Extended One Generation Reproductive Toxicity Study (EOGRTS) which, despite having been validated, has not been adequately taken up by regulators or industry.
A significant objective involves technical work to influence international testing guidelines. These guidelines determine the number of animals and the exact nature of the procedures to be used in globally standardised toxicity tests by companies complying with regulatory requirements for safety testing of chemical substances worldwide. We work extensively on these guidelines through the International Council on Protection of Animals in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Programmes (ICAPO), and we seek to ensure the best possible science and animal welfare (using reduction and refinement strategies) and the widest possible integration of alternatives to in vivo test methods in OECD guidelines and programmes. This work is critical to ensuring that the OECD’s international test standards for human health and ecological safety use nonanimal methods and approaches. When working on behalf of ICAPO, PISC scientists represent animal protection organisations from North America, Europe, Japan and India.
PISC scientists regularly attend OECD meetings, including the Working Group of the National Coordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme (WNT), which meets once a year and oversees the work of the OECD test guidelines programme. The WNT reports to the Joint Meeting of the Chemicals Committee and the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology, the policy body overseeing the OECD Chemicals Programme. PISC scientists regularly attend expert group meetings with the OECD Secretariat and international experts overseeing the test guideline programme. An objective in attending these meetings is to seek workable consensus, particularly with regard to refinement and reduction possibilities and other animal welfare considerations.
PISC and its members regularly submit detailed scientific comments on a wide range of new test guidelines or those undergoing revision, thus influencing the development and validation of test guidelines from an early stage. This includes submissions regarding OECD guidelines, proposed revisions to European Pharmacopoeia monographs and general chapters, and ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) recommendations relating to both animal and nonanimal methodologies.
PISC ensures that information regarding the use of nonanimal tests is accessible to all audiences by publishing technical briefs and articles in peer-reviewed journals and by presenting at scientific, administrative and legislative conferences. Media content relating to our activities and those of our member organisations is often published in national and trade press. These documents and presentations are available at www.piscltd.org.uk/scipubs.
How Does PISC Work?
With an eye towards championing the best nonanimal methods and reducing duplicative testing, PISC brings scientific and technical expertise and extensive knowledge of the international regulatory environment to the development of regulated testing protocols.
In order to do so, PISC develops technical analyses, organises topical workshops and publishes scientific recommendations and commentaries on policy reviews to coordinate related efforts among regulatory agencies, industry and standards-making organisations.
PISC and its member organisations respond to public concerns about animal testing and work to increase awareness of animal testing alternatives among the general public through websites, direct communication with their supporters and the media.
More information about our work is available at the links in the sidebar.