Thursday, November 17, 2005

EU Plans to Cut Animal Tests - An Excellent Step to Ending the Use of Animals in Research and Testing

An excellent step. Hopefully U.S. companies will follow but I doubt it. I'm wondering though why this is constantly talked about when excellent alternatives to animal testing already exist.

For more information on the alternatives to animal testing or animal tests, visit the following pages:

Read on:

Nov. 16, 2005

EU plans to cut animal tests

Industry groups pledge to collaborate on refining,
reducing, and replacing the use of lab animals

By Stephen Pincock

A leading animal rights organization in Europe has
given a cautious thumbs-up to a pledge made by
industry groups last week to help the European Union
expedite the search for new alternatives to animal

At a meeting in Brussels hosted by the European
Commissioners for Enterprise and Research, Günter
Verheugen and Janez Potoènik – along with groups
representing the chemical, cosmetic, pharmaceutical,
biotechnology, soap and detergents, animal health, and
crop protection industries -- signed a joint
declaration on the "3 Rs"-- refining, reducing and
replacing the use of lab animals.

"We think it is a very promising initiative," said
Marlou Heinen from the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare,
an umbrella group for some 19 animal welfare
organizations. "But we see it very much as a first
step—whether it will be an actual success will very
much depend on how this is going to be implemented."

The ultimate goal of the partnership is to eliminate
the use of animals in testing altogether, Verheugen
said in a statement. "We do not only wish to reduce
animal testing, but also want to bring it to an end in
the long run."

So far, the details on how that is going to be
achieved are yet to be worked out. The declaration
commits the signatories to developing an action plan,
which they are due to deliver by early in 2006, said
Sebastian Marx from Colipa, the cosmetic industry
group. "Then the real flesh will be put on the bones,"
he told The Scientist.

Colin Humphris, spokesman for the chemicals industry
group Cefic, agreed that the partners were "feeling
our way" in terms of how the collaboration might work.
"But what I think is important is that when you bring
together these different sectors, you bring together
different programs of work that relate to this area,"
he told The Scientist. "There's some common interest

As many as 10.7 million animals are used annually for
experiments in the EU according to figures quoted by
the European Union. More than half of these are used
in research, human medicine, dentistry and fundamental
biological studies. Another 16 percent are used in
production and quality control of products and devices
in human and veterinary medicine and dentistry, and 10
percent for toxicology and other types of safety

In 1986, an EU directive insisted that whenever an
alternative to an animal experiment exists, it has to
be used, and called for support to make such
alternatives available. But the timing of the current
initiative had a lot to do with another proposed EU
directive that could have the opposite effect of the
earlier directive.

That new law, under debate at the moment, is REACH
(Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of
Chemical Substances), a framework designed to gather
better information on the chemical substances that
reached the market before 1981.

REACH would require testing of those old substances to
evaluate their health and environmental risks. The
trouble is, Verheugen said, the proposal as it stands
could require millions more animal tests. "REACH is
not ethically acceptable if it leads to such excessive
additional use of animals. I will do everything I can
to change the current proposal in this respect," he
said in a report on the Euractive news service.

Marx said the imminent arrival of the REACH rules was
a big impetus for last week's animal testing
declaration. "This is not really a response to the
actions of animal rights groups," he said. "We have
new legislation coming and we need to do something."

The declaration signed last week commits the
signatories to making a progress report at about the
same time next year. For Heinen, this is another
positive sign. "That will enable us and other
stakeholders to see that the promises are being met."
A key sign of success will be evidence of extra
financial commitment from industry, she said.

Links for this article

"Reducing animal testing: Commission agrees
partnership with industry," European Commission press

Günter Verheugen

Janez Potoènik

European Partnership to Promote Alternative Approaches
to Animal Testing: 3 Rs Declaration

Eurogroup for Animal Welfare


"Commission-industry partnership aims to reduce animal
testing," Euractive, November 5, 2005.

EU directive, "Protection of animals used for
experimental purposes."

S. Pincock, "UK extremist attacks drop," The
Scientist, August 5, 2005.

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