Software from global safety science company UL, is leading the way.
In the current tech age, software is replacing a number of “old” methods, sometimes for cost effectiveness or for efficiency. In some cases, though, software can step in for ethical reasons, such as when public school science classes “dissect” virtual specimens rather than once living animals.
Now, a testing and certification company is looking at software to replace live animal testing of products, a topic that has been hotly contested for decades. While supporters acknowledge that animal testing results in safer practices for humans, opponents have argued that a lot of the current testing practices are not only cruel, they’re completely unnecessary.
The EU’s REACH program is a set of compliance standards for chemical manufacturing, and UL’s REACHAcross software provides manufacturers with an in-depth database of chemicals, including their results in previous animal research. The software’s goal is to streamline the process for submitting compliance applications, while also reducing the need for animal testing.
According to UL: “Our sophisticated engine builds large networks of chemicals based on properties such as molecular structure and health endpoints interactions. The REACHAcross™ software system uses curated data from multiple, widely accepted public sources… Using advanced machine-learning and complex mathematical algorithms, the system is able to accurately assess health impacts for the chemical entered with the certainty of an animal test and sensitivities of 80% across endpoints.”
This highly political topic might seem like a non-issue to some, but the data says otherwise. Since the mid-’80s, the numbers of animals used each year for testing has dropped by almost half, but in 2015, there was only an 8% decrease over the prior year in the numbers of animals used for testing purposes. Further, in Europe, 93% of the animals used for laboratory testing are not from species that are included in the list of animals protected under the US animal welfare regulations.