07/28/09 European Commission Finally Approves in vitro Methods for REACH
Cruel rabbit skin irritation test is finally replaced!
Animal protection and rights groups have welcomed the announcement by the European Commission of the adoption into EU regulation of an alternative to the cruel rabbit skin irritation test. This means that it is no longer permissible to use rabbits to test the irritation of chemicals, biocides and cosmetics.
The alternative is an in vitro method using skin donated from human volunteers. It is commercially available as EpiSkin, EpiDerm and SkinEthic.
Animal protection and rights groups have been strongly pressing for the EU to finally accept the new method, which was validated by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods in April 2007. Groups and so called antivivisectionists are disappointed, however, that it has taken over two years for a valid and commercially available method to receive regulatory approval in the EU.
Animal Friends expects from the Croatian authorities to quickly implement this regulation. Besides the existing legal ban on testing ingredients and cosmetic products and cleansers on animals, this will be another step towards the complete end of exploiting and killing animals for laboratory tests.
EU press statement:
The European Commission adopted the first amendment to the regulation on test methods for chemicals. The regulation was modified to add four new test methods and update two existing ones. These include a new in vitro test method which will reduce the number of animals used in testing chemicals for skin irritation, specifically rabbits which are most commonly used. Conventional tests can require up to three rabbits per chemical tested. The Commission is committed to replacing, reducing and refining the testing of chemicals on animals with alternative test methods. This first amendment to the regulation on test methods for chemicals, adopted in May 2008, reflects the Commission's commitment to speed up the availability of alternative test methods. The regulation sets standards for determining whether certain substances are hazardous to human health and the environment and is fundamental for the operation of the European Union's chemicals legislation REACH. Legislation on cosmetics, detergents and biocides also makes use of the test methods in this regulation. The amendment will enter into force three days after its publication in the Official Journal.