The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 required the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to establish criteria for the approval and acceptance of scientifically valid non-animal alternative test methods. In order to fulfill this requirement, the Director of NIEHS established the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM).
ICCVAM was tasked with implementing a process by which new test methods could be evaluated, and coordinating cross-agency efforts related to the development, validation, acceptance, and national and international harmonization of toxicological test methods. ICCVAM, comprised of 15 federal regulatory and research agencies that use, generate, or disseminate toxicological information, was established as a permanent interagency committee with passage of the ICCVAM Authorization Act of 2000. The Committee conducts technical evaluations of new, revised, and alternative test methods, and promotes the scientific validation and regulatory acceptance of test methods that refine, reduce, or replace animal use.
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AAVS was instrumental in aiding the development of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act – legislation that established a retirement system for chimpanzees no longer needed in research. The final version of the bill was signed into law in 2000. Unfortunately, the bill did not call for the permanent retirement of chimpanzees, and permitted the removal of chimps from sanctuaries for use in research if certain criteria were met.
In 2005, Chimp Haven opened its doors as the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary required under the CHIMP Act. Chimpanzees can live out their lives there in large, naturalistic enclosures in complex social groups. In 2007, the Chimp Haven is Home Act, prohibiting the removal of chimpanzees from retirement for research purposes, was signed into law. Now, all chimpanzees used in research that enter the retirement system will be granted permanent sanctuary for the rest of their lives.
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Click here for more information about the use of chimpanzees in research.