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Environmental Factor

April 2011

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Agreement increases international cooperation to reduce animal testing

April 2011

Seung Hee Kim, Ph.D.

Kim addressed the audience gathered for the signing ceremony. (Photo courtesy of NICEATM)

NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., joined international counterparts March 8 in Washington, D.C., to sign an agreement that will expand international efforts to reduce the number of animals required for chemical safety testing. The agreement brings a new country, the Republic of Korea, into an existing effort to promote international cooperation that should permit more rapid acceptance of new safety testing methods for chemicals and products. New testing methods can better protect public health and also reduce the number of animals needed for safety testing.

The agreement, known as the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM), was signed in a ceremony during the 50th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology. Birnbaum signed as the U.S. representative on behalf of the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), one of the national organizations participating in the agreement.

Uniting scientists in Europe, North America, and Asia

The updated agreement expands the original ICATM memorandum of cooperation signed in April 2009 (see story( The agreement was also signed by representatives from participating validation organizations within the European Union, Canada, Japan, and Korea.

In remarks welcoming the participants to the signing ceremony, Birnbaum highlighted the successes that have already been realized during the first two years of the agreement, and looked forward to future successes that will include input from Korean scientists. Representatives of the participating national validation organizations also made brief statements, as did NICEATM Director Rear Adm. William Stokes, D.V.M., and Jodie Kulpa-Eddy, D.V.M., chair of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), which is administered by NICEATM.

There is a growing international need for new test methods that better predict the safety or hazards of chemicals and chemical products. U.S. and international laws also require that new methods used for research and testing reduce, refine to decrease or eliminate pain and distress, or replace animal use to the greatest extent possible.

The ICATM agreement will promote international cooperation on the scientific validation of these new test methods. Test methods that are shown to be reproducible based on strong scientific information will be more readily accepted by regulatory agencies worldwide.  This will, in turn, lead to their broader acceptance and use, benefitting both public health and animal welfare. Worldwide acceptance of test methods also benefits economic development, by allowing manufacturers to satisfy testing requirements in many international markets with a single safety test.

More information on the ICATM agreement is available on the NICEATM-ICCVAM website(

seated left to right, are Birnbaum; Inskip; Kreysa; Yasuo Ohno, Ph.D., and Kim. Standing, left to right, are Kulpa-Eddy; Stokes; Kojima; Han; Soojung Sohn, Ph.D.; and Bong Hyun Nam, Ph.D.
Signatories, seated left to right, are Birnbaum; Inskip; Kreysa; Yasuo Ohno, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Health Sciences in Japan; and Kim. Standing, left to right, are Kulpa-Eddy; Stokes; Kojima; Han; Soojung Sohn, Ph.D., from KoCVAM; and Bong Hyun Nam, Ph.D., from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. (Photo courtesy of NICEATM)

NICEATM director chairs SOT session on ICATM

Stokes co-chaired a session on ICATM at the recent annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT). The goal of the session was to inform SOT attendees of the important role ICATM plays in facilitating the rapid international adoption of new validated alternative safety testing methods.

In addition to chairing the session, titled "The International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM): Translating Science to Provide Improved Public Health Safety Assessment Tools," Stokes gave an introductory presentation that described the purposes and goals of ICATM. His presentation also outlined the validation process for new test methods and noted the positive impact that the ICATM agreement had on the adoption of international guidelines for chemical safety testing in 2009 and 2010.

Also co-chairing the session was Marilyn Wind, Ph.D., who presented a summary of ICATM contributions by NICEATM and ICCVAM.  Wind, who recently retired from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, was ICCVAM Chair from 2007 to 2010 and was instrumental in developing the original ICATM agreement signed in 2009.

Following Stokes' and Wind's talks, representatives of the other national validation organizations that participate in ICATM gave presentations summarizing their organizations' contributions and roles in ICATM, as well as future plans. Presenters included Joachim Kreysa, Ph.D., for the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM); Hajime Kojima, Ph.D., for the Japanese Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (JaCVAM); Mike Inskip for the Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau of Health Canada; Soon Young Han, Ph.D., for the Korean Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (KoCVAM); and Seung Hee Kim, Ph.D., director general for the National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation at the Korea Food and Drug Administration.

Presentations from the ICATM session, as well as other NICEATM-ICCVAM presentations at the 2011 SOT Annual Meeting, are available on the NICEATM-ICCVAM website.

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