Animal welfare is an issue of serious concern for many parts of society, including the European Institutions and national governments. There is strong support to refine, reduce or replace (the 3Rs principle) the use of animals in the regulatory and safety testing of substances. The European Commission’s Protocol on Protection and Welfare of Animals governs their use in formulating and implementing EU policies. Already the EU has decided to ban animal testing in cosmetics. And it is committed to reducing animal testing as part of the implementation of the REACH proposals for regulation of chemicals. The revision of EU Laboratory Animal Directive 86/609, to be formally adopted during in 2010, will increase the welfare standards required for laboratory animals.
Cefic Position on Animal testing
The chemical industry is committed to the use of alternatives to animal testing wherever and whenever possible. The first choice is to use existing data or alternative methods. Using animals for testing should only be considered when other possibilities have been exhausted. However, current safety legislation and regulation (including REACH) effectively obliges the industry to use animal testing to prove the safety of its products.
A great deal of research investment has led to the development of a number of replacement methodologies for animal testing, such as in-vitro methods and computational tools. However, validated replacement methods are not available for many standard but more complex safety tests such as reproductive toxicity. Efforts to replace these studies continue. But currently the greatest benefit, in terms of animal welfare, is expected from refined methods that reduce the number of animals involved.
Alternative research and policy
Cefic supports research on the reduction, refinement and replacement of animals. It believes this 3Rs approach will maximise the impact on overall animal use in the industry. As part of its Long-range Research Initiative (LRI), Cefic organises an Animal Alternatives Issue Management Team (AIMT) that coordinates activities for the European chemical industry. AIMT provides a credible platform to promote the industry’s continuing contributions and achievements in improving animal welfare. It helps identify, develop and implement new research projects in the area. It works with relevant results from the LRI research programme, liaising widely with other groups involved with animal welfare issues, research and the implementation of alternative methods.
It also acts as a focal point, both locally and globally, for liaison with welfare initiatives. It provides the industry’s input and contribution to the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), established in 2006 by the European Commission with Cefic as a founding partner. Through this important partnership, AIMT co-ordinates industry policy and engagement with the European Commission in this area, working with it to formulate new, practical science-based policy in the area of animal alternatives. The EPAA also provides a platform for information exchange across different industry sectors and with representatives of civil society.