Cambridge To Consider Banning Eye Test

The Cambridge City Council has postponed until next Monday discussion on a proposal to ban tests on animals used in the development of cosmetics and household products.

An amendment to the city ordinance on laboratory animals, which would make the LD-50 and Draize eye tests illegal, was charter-righted last Monday by Councillor Sheila T. Russell, who said she wanted the council to "have a chance to really look it over and see what it means."

Any member of the council has the option to "charter-right" or delay discussion of any business until the next council meeting.

The Draize test, which is usually used in developing new cosmetic products, involves inserting experimental substances into rabbits' eyes to test for irritancy. In the LD-50 test, animals are fed potentially toxic substances to determine how dangerous they may be for humans.

Councillor Jonathan S. Myers, who sponsored the proposal, noted that the council has already passed a non-binding order condemning the two tests. "The council has already gone on record against these test," he said. "It might as well be part of the city ordinance."

However, Russell, who had backed the non-binding order, said that such a ban on animal experimentation might place an unfair burden on Cambridge's large medical community.

"I am waiting for a report as to whether [the proposal] has any detrimental effects on medical research," said Russell.

"Sometimes animal-rights activists get overzealous," she added.

Opponents of animal testing said that the proposal would have only a small effect on research in the city, noting that medical researchers would be exempted from the law.

"As far as I know, there is nobody in Cambridge doing these tests for cosmetics and household products," said Dr. Julie Johnson of the Cambridge Committee for Responsible Research (CCRR). Still, the CCRR is encouraging its members to attend next week's council meeting.

Johnson said yesterday that she would meet with Myers tomorrow to discuss the details of the amendment. Myers has said that the proposal's "exact wording" has not yet been determined.