Better Protection of People and our Planet While Building a World Without Animal Testing


Better Protection of People and our Planet While Building a World Without Animal Testing

15 November 2020
Over the past 15 years, the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing has helped facilitate coordination and cooperation via the 3R principles to successfully Replace animal testing with innovative methods, Reduce the number of animals in established methods, and to Refine procedures. While much progress has been achieved in lessening the need for animal testing, they have more work ahead.

During the past 5 years, regulatory mandated testing accounted for millions of animals in the Member States of the EU alone. These numbers are simply too large to be ignored and warrant integration of 3Rs approaches. Regulatory mandated animal testing is likely to further increase as the EU chemicals management policy develops under the EU Green Deal toxic-free environmental strategy. How can we address both challenges, a better protection of people and our planet and less animal testing, at once?

The range of animal alternative tests has evolved over time. They generally involve the evaluation of local and systemic effects and the dose response associated with those effects. This has formed the basis for safety assessments that are predictive of risks and protective of people and our planet.  Yet replacement of animal models to those with greater precision and predictive power is a complex problem for endpoints like systemic toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and carcinogenicity where harmful effects can occur beyond a chemical’s entry point can be the result of complex interactions among biological processes and may take time to manifest. 

While these methods and approaches exist and can be successfully applied in some cases, there are many others for which further research is needed.  A continued effort is needed to catalogue the complex adverse outcome pathways associated with systemic effects and link them to existing animal data via computational modeling, because the non-linear aspects of downstream events render it difficult to determine safety from initiating events alone.