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Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy
of recent scientific advances, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to develop a long-range vision for toxicity testing and a strategic plan for implementing the vision.
This report of the NRC Committee on Toxicity Testing and Assessment of Environmental Agents, prepared in response to EPA’s request, envisions a major campaign in the scientific community to advance the science of toxicity testing and put it on a forward-looking footing. The potential benefits are clear. Fresh thinking and the use of emerging methods for understanding how environmental agents affect human health will promote beneficial changes in testing of these agents and in the use of data for decision-making. The envisioned change is expected to generate more robust data on the potential risks to humans posed by exposure to environmental agents and to expand capabilities to test chemicals more efficiently. A stronger scientific foundation offers the prospect of improved risk-based regulatory decisions and possibly greater public confidence in and acceptance of the decisions.
With those goals in mind, the committee presents in this report a vision for mobilizing the scientific community and marshalling scientific resources to initiate and sustain new approaches, some available and others yet to be developed, to toxicity testing. This report speaks to scientists in all sectors—government, public interest, industry, university, and consulting laboratories—who design and conduct toxicity tests and who use test results to evaluate risks to human health. The report also seeks to inform and engage decision-makers and other leaders who shape the nature and scope of government regulations and who establish budgetary priorities that will determine progress in advancing toxicity testing in the future. The full impact of the committee’s wide-ranging recommendations can be achieved only if both scientists and nonscientists work to advance the objectives set forth in the vision.