ECHA workshop highlights commitment to animal-free regulatory system for industrial chemicals
The workshop’s main objectives were to explore opportunities to increase the use of NAMs in the short term and how research and regulation can support the transition in the longer term, to identify next steps to accelerate the transition to non-animal testing.
The event successfully engaged 500 attendees following other recent key developments, including the unprecedented success of the European Citizens Initiative "Save Cruelty-Free Cosmetics —Commit to a Europe without animal testing", which received more than 1.2 million validated signatures in January 2023. Subsequently, meetings between the ECI organisers, the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament took place to discuss the ECI's three objectives. These events built on the majority support received in 2021 from the European Parliament, which led to a resolution calling on the European Commission to coordinate a plan to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing, and education.
At the end of the event, 75% of attendees felt ‘more confident’ that animal testing can be replaced with non-animal methods and that increasing confidence in these methods is critical to transition to an animal-free chemicals safety testing system. ECHA closed the event by remarking on the community's strong commitment to move towards animal-free chemical safety assessments, the different understanding of NAMs among stakeholders, and the importance of having goals and concrete milestones to make progress. This aligned with earlier remarks from the European Commission (DG Environment) to identify ‘critical milestones along the way’.
However, presentations from DG Environment on short-term planned actions under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability showed that - despite some efforts to adopt non-animal methods - the revisions of REACH and CLP will still lead to an increase in the use of animal testing for new purposes, and suggestions from the Commission’s scientists (DG JRC) to avoid new tests have not been fully taken into consideration at this stage.
Eurogroup for Animals will continue its efforts to build support for concrete actions and next steps on the roadmap from the European Commission, to ensure an active transition towards animal-free regulatory testing and scientific innovation.