The FDA, CPSC and EPA all gave the green light to the tests put forward for consideration in October 2007 by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM). The two methods are called the bovine corneal opacity and permeability (BCOP) assay and the isolated chicken eye (ICE) assay. Impact of new tests They are expected to reduce significantly or even eliminate the need for testing on animals. "Based on an extensive database of product test results, the use of these two alternative methods is likely to reduce the use of live animals for eye safety testing by 10 percent or more," said William Stokes, the executive director of ICCVAM. "More importantly, the use of these tests will eliminate the testing in animals of most substances likely to cause the most severe pain and discomfort," added Stokes. This fits with the research priorities laid down by the ICCVAM earlier in the year. The organization said it would focus its energies on evaluating alternatives to tests that currently use a large number of animals or involve considerable pain and distress. Adoption of alternatives elsewhere Now that the alternative methods have been adopted in the US the ICCVAM will pursue their adoption internationally by the OECD. EU interest is expected to be particularly great because of the impending 2009 ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic ingredients. Greater international cooperation between the EU and US is on the cards after representatives of the countries agreed to increase bi-lateral efforts at a meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council in November last year. Priority was given to the effective validation and acceptance of alternative testing methods between the two economic powers.