(Adnkronos) – BRUSSELS, March 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — As the European Commission carries out its public consultation on plans for a revised EU chemicals management system, animal protection organisation – Cruelty Free Europe – warns that without significant changes, the proposals could mean millions more animal experiments and insufficient progress in protecting human health and the environment.
Cruelty Free Europe scientists have run calculations showing that just two of the proposed changes – for endocrine disruption and, for the first time, polymer substances – could involve at least six million more vertebrate animals, including rats, frogs and fish, in new tests required just for the chemicals currently used in the EU.
Cruelty Free Europe estimates that the European Commission’s proposals1 for routine endocrine disruptor information will lead to between 3.6 and 5.1 million additional animals2 being used in new tests.
The Commission has also outlined proposals to extend rules to include polymers.3 Cruelty Free Europe estimates that at least 1,590,000 vertebrate animals could suffer and die in new tests – but these figures could rise drastically.
One of the animal tests that looks set to be routinely used is the Hershberger Bioassay. Originating in the 1930s, this test involves surgically castrating male rats – a procedure which itself has raised welfare concerns – before injecting or force-feeding them the test chemical through a tube into their stomach for ten consecutive days. The rats are then killed and dissected.
Head of Science Policy and Regulation at Cruelty Free Europe, Dr Emma Grange, said: “The EU’s revised chemicals proposals come at a time when we know that people are already concerned about experiments on animals, and we need much more effective action for human health and the environment. It’s devastating to see little evidence of new thinking in the plans and heart-breaking to think of all the wasted animal suffering.”
Dr Grange urged the Commission to think again: “It’s not too late for some brave, bold and modern initiatives to use modern safety science as well as a precautionary approach to ensure safe chemical use.”
Cruelty Free Europe believes that non-animal approaches offer greater potential for generating useful information on whether a substance can affect people, without the need to test chemicals on animals. For instance, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relies on its non-animal ToxCast programme to identify potential endocrine disruptors. Using a combination of in vitro assays, the EPA has also developed a new non-animal approach that could pave the way to eliminating tests like the Hershberger Bioassay.
In July 2020, Savanta ComRes conducted polling for Cruelty Free Europe that showed that nearly three quarters (72%) of adults in EU member states agree that the EU should set binding targets and deadlines to phase out testing on animals.
The Commission’s REACH consultation opened on 21st January and will run until April.
About Cruelty Free Europe
Cruelty Free Europe is a dynamic network of animal protection groups with a presence at the heart of EU decision-making, working to bring animal testing to an end across Europe and beyond. The organisation works with EU bodies and the public to ensure that animals in laboratories are taken seriously on the European political agenda and to campaign for humane modern science and progressive legislation. www.crueltyfreeeurope.org
1Policy Options for Introduction of Standard Information Requirements for ED Testing Under REACH Annexes VII-X, as communicated with the EDC Targeted Stakeholder Survey 2021. 2as defined by Directive 2010/63/EU. 3Wood & PFA (2020) Scientific and technical support for the development of criteria to identify and group polymers for Registration/Evaluation under REACH and their impact assessment.
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