The BUAV’s Head of Science, Dr Katy Taylor, yesterday presented to staff at the European Chemicals Agency on behalf of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) which the BUAV leads and provides the Secretariat for.
Dr Taylor’s presentation, entitled ‘Animal Testing and REACH – How are we doing?’ provided an overview of the ECEAE and the work it has done on REACH.
Katy explained to ECHA staff how the ECEAE had had high expectations that animal testing under REACH would be kept to a minimum by industry and the Agency. She explained that the ECEAE was disappointed with the Agency’s current laissez-faire attitude to animal welfare and she asked the Agency to do more to promote alternative methods.
Dr Taylor said; “It was a pleasure to be given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to staff at ECHA who may be less familiar with our work. I hope they got a sense of the extent to which we hold the agency to account on animal testing issues and the need for ECHA to be seen to be more concerned about animal welfare.”
REACH is the European chemical testing regime. Set up in June 2007, it stands for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. Its purpose is to establish whether an estimated 30,000 chemicals on the market are safe for humans and the environment, and to control the use of those judged to present a risk. Animal testing is being used to establish the safety of these chemicals.
Chemical companies have until 2018 to prove to the European Chemicals Agency that the chemicals they are manufacturing or importing are safe to use. The experiments used to assess the safety of chemicals are called toxicity tests, which traditionally involve the poisoning of guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and mice. To test all of the chemicals in this way before the 2018 deadline, it is estimated that up to 13 million of animals will be poisoned and killed.
The BUAV, together with the ECEAE, has worked since the start of REACH to:
As a direct consequence of our work commenting on the testing proposals, we estimate that so far 17 animal tests, that would have involved over 18,000 animals, have been avoided. These tests include repeated dose tests in which rats are force fed the chemical every day for 90 days, prenatal developmental toxicity tests in which pregnant rats are force fed the chemical and then killed along with their unborn babies and two generation reproductive toxicity tests in which several generations of rats are force fed the substance to see if it alters their reproductive capacity.