This month, European alternatives journal Altex has published two reports by scientists from the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) which the BUAV leads and provides the Secretariat for.
The first is a review of our experiences with the testing proposal system under EU chemicals legislation, REACH. This is a system put in place to prevent additional animal testing by allowing third parties to comment on each proposed new test. ECEAE funded toxicologists provided comments on nearly half of the 817 proposals published for the first REACH deadline (between August 1, 2009 and July 31, 2012). If all the tests would be agreed then this would have resulted in over 850,000 animals being used. This paper summarizes the response by companies and the European Chemicals Agency to our comments and highlights issues with the use of read-across, in vitro tests, QSAR, and weight of evidence approaches. 42% of testing proposals were subsequently withdrawn by the companies and our comments were directly responsible for at least 17 proposals not going ahead, saving at least 18,000 animals. However, our experience has been that the testing proposal system has been undermined by the agency responsible because they do not think it is their responsibility to act on the third party comments, except in rare instances. The paper outlines our suggestions to make sure there are mechanisms in place to ensure comments can be taken on board with any future consultations.
The second is a summary of a survey the ECEAE conducted into levels of funding of alternative methods by EU member countries. We asked every country how much money they put into alternatives to animal testing in 2013 and what plans they had to promote them. We were disappointed to find that reported funding of alternative methods totalled only €18.7 million in 2013, provided by only seven countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the UK). Funding of alternatives was between 0 and 0.036% of national science R&D expenditure and nearly half of the countries that responded reported that they do not specifically contribute.
The ECEAE is pleased that our scientific efforts in the area of alternatives have been recognised and are now available for others to read and share.
Both articles are available as open access from www.altex-edition.org
Food for Thought …Experiences of the REACH Testing Proposals System to Reduce Animal Testing. Taylor, K., Stengel, W., Casalegno, C., Andrew, D. Altex 31, 2/14, 107-128.
Comment: EU member state government contribution to alternative methods. Taylor, K. Altex 31, 2/14, 2014, 215-218.