13th meeting of the scientific group on methodologies for the safety evaluation of chemicals (SGOMSEC): alternative testing methodologies for ecotoxicity
There is growing public pressure to minimize the use of vertebrates in ecotoxicity testing; therefore, effective alternative to toxicity tests causing suffering are being sought. This report discusses alternatives and differs in some respects from the reports of the other three groups because the primary concern is with harmful effects of chemicals at the level of population and above tather than with harmful effects upon individuals. It is concluded that progress toward the objective of minimizing testing that causes suffering would be served by the following initiatives - a clearer definition of goals and strategies when undertaking testing procedures; development of alternative assays, including in vitro test systems, that are based on new technology; development of nondestructive assays for vertebrates (e.g., biomarkers) that do not cause suffering; selection of most appropriate species, strains, and developmental stages for testing procedures (but no additional species for basic t esting); better integrated and more flexible testing procedures incorporating biomarker responses, ecophysiological concepts, and ecologi- cal end points (progress in this direction depends upon expert judgment). In general, testing procedures could be made more realistic, taking into account problems with mixtures, and with volatile or insoluble chemicals.