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Response or Comment

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A recent editorial is discussed, which implied that animal-based developmental and reproductive toxicology tests will continue to be crucial, that the thalidomide disaster could have been prevented by more animal testing, and that tests on juvenile animals would help to protect children (as developing adults) from the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals. It is argued that animal tests in these scientific areas do not provide reliable data that are predictive for human responses and, even if they did, the tests are too expensive and time-consuming for application to the very large number of substances that need to be tested. It is estimated there are already more than 100,000 man-made chemicals to which humans may be exposed on a regular basis, and it is therefore widely accepted that in vivo developmental toxicology could not possibly be used to assess all new and existing chemical substances, due to the scale of its demand upon time and resources. It is therefore imperative that alternatives such as those outlined above are embraced, further developed, accepted and used — as a matter of urgency.