National Anti-vivisection Society

 

National Antivisection Society

EU chemicals testing: Keep animals out of REACH

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January 2006: 2005 was the year in which the campaign intensified to halt the biggest animal testing programme the world has ever seen. In October REACH went before the EU Environment Committee, in November it was voted on in the European parliament, and in December REACH was agreed by the EU’s Council of Ministers. ADI and NAVS were active at every stage. Millions of animals have been saved, but millions are still likely to die. The campaign continues.

Keep animals out of REACH

Background

As supporters are aware, REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, a new EU regulation creating a single system for the control of all chemical substances sold in the EU. REACH sets up a new European Chemicals Agency which will manage registration of substances, help evaluate safety, and authorise the use of chemicals in products.

REACH will require 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 will need to submit a dossier of information to the European Chemicals Agency.

These dossiers will determine whether a particular chemical can be used in a certain way. For example, use-specific authorisations will be required for chemicals that cause cancer, mutations or reproduction problems, or that accumulate in our bodies and in the environment. Authorisation will be granted only to companies that can show that the risks are adequately controlled (as opposed to blanket registration as before) or if social and economic benefits outweigh the risks and suitable alternative substances do not exist. It is stated that this will encourage substitution of unsafe substances by safer ones.

Whilst we support greater accountability, increased information and stronger controls on chemicals in society, the problem is that there is a requirement for animal test data in the dossiers on which this system is based. For chemicals where no data has been collected it will mean testing these chemicals on animals.

Since 1981, there have been data requirements for all “new” chemicals. However, prior to this there are thousands of chemicals for which little or no data has been collected. 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 is this issue that has galvanised the NAVS, ADI, LDF, and all our supporters in a vigorous campaign to prevent this unnecessary slaughter. We have 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), along with a publicity campaign. Our supporters have played a tremendous role, writing letters to MEPs, and, in the last eight months alone, have distributed over a hundred thousand leaflets, and sent a quarter of a million postcards to MEPs in two special postcard campaigns. As one representative from another group remarked, it was not possible to visit an MEPs office in Brussels without seeing a stack of ADI campaign postcards.

Next page

Click here to view the REACH report

Click here to view the Acute Toxicity Testing report

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