Posted: 1 March 2013. Updated: 12 June 2014
REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, an EU regulation creating a single system for the control of all chemical substances sold in the EU. REACH requires manufacturers and importers to produce information on the hazards and safety of substances produced or imported in volumes over 1 tonne per year. In order to register a chemical for use in the EU, they need to submit a dossier of information to the European Chemicals Agency, set up to manage the registration of substances, help evaluate safety, and authorise the use of chemicals in products.
Since 1981, there have been data requirements for all “new” chemicals. However, there are thousands of chemicals for which little or no data had been collected pre-1981. It is estimated that up to 30,000 of these “existing” chemicals will require testing under REACH, resulting in the biggest single animal testing programme the world has ever seen.
It was this issue that galvanised the NAVS, Animal Defenders International, the Lord Dowding Fund, and all our supporters in a vigorous campaign to prevent the unnecessary deaths of millions of animals. We attended meetings in Brussels, Birmingham and London, lobbied, participated in consultations, produced a number of scientific reports, focused some of our research grants to address key areas (such as neurotoxicity) and ran a public awareness campaign.
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Non-animal chemical testing in Europe reviewed
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published its latest report into progress with non-animal alternatives used under the REACH regulations. Read more
ECHA’s first report on animal use
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published the first of the reports which it is required to submit to the European Commission every three years on “The Use of Alternatives to Testing on Animals for the REACH Regulation”. Find out more
Exclusive interview with alternatives expert
Dr Hartung reveals his motivations and hopes for the future of advanced methods to replace animal testing and the effects of REACH on animal use. Read the full interview
Kick animal testing out of the house
Our campaign for a ban on the use of animals to test household products and their ingredients is affected by the REACH legislation. Read our campaign leaflet.
The start of the world’s biggest ever animal testing programme
The EU Regulation REACH came into force in June 2007. It signalled the start of the largest animal testing programme Europe has ever seen. Read more
REACH: A huge victory
When the REACH proposals emerged, it came with a death sentence for around 38 million laboratory animals. However in the region of 30 million animals were saved from cruel and painful tests – a tally unlikely to be matched by any other single campaign. Read how this incredible campaign unfolded
Concessions welcomed but EU vote still condemns animals to die in unnecessary tests
The fate of millions of laboratory animals was decided by the European Parliament vote on REACH. Twenty amendments, supported by the Environment Committee, proposing non-animal methods instead of animal tests were rejected. An opportunity to modernise testing methods and eliminate animal testing was missed. Find out more
MEPs debate the world’s biggest ever animal testing programme
MEPs in Brussels debated whether to press ahead with REACH following the Environment Committee report and voted whether non-animal testing strategies were to be adopted. Over 27,000 supporters were mobilised in the build-up to this important vote. Read more
EU chemicals testing: Environment Committee vote
When REACH came before the EU’s Environment Committee, we providing MEPs with the ‘Keep animals out of REACH’ report and our exposé of Inveresk contract testing laboratory in Scotland. After years of lobbying, although we did not manage to get everything we wanted at the Environment Committee, we did achieve some significant victories.
Find out more
Read our REACH and Inveresk reports.
Sea-change in industry attitudes before EU parliament vote on REACH
Key industry sectors committed to the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) to replace the use of animal testing, ahead of the MEP vote on REACH which would decide the fate of millions of laboratory animals and whether they would press ahead with the biggest animal testing programme that the world has ever seen. Read more
EU chemicals testing: European Parliament vote
Sadly, some of the successes in the Environment Committee were short-lived, when REACH arrived in the Parliament. Find out more
Supporters lobby MEPs before vote on REACH
On 4 October 2005, the EU’s Environment Committee voted on REACH, which at the time was destined to create a surge of around 4 million extra animals to be used in tests in the EU. We released a hard-hitting report with evidence to show why the acute toxicity tests in the REACH proposal should adopt a non-animal approach. Read more .
Read the report summary
Read the full report
EU chemicals testing: Council of Ministers
The EU Council of Ministers representing the Member States attended an Extraordinary meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 13 December 2005 with the aim of agreeing REACH. The UK, holder of the EU Presidency from June to December 2005, was determined to get political agreement on REACH and therefore proposed a ‘compromise text’ to achieve this. Read more