REACH regulation: paradigm shift towards non-animal methods needed to protect animals, human health and the environment
The European Commission recently closed their public consultation on the revision of the REACH Regulation.
A number of stakeholders reported biases in the survey, which implied that reducing and replacing traditional animal testing with non-animal testing methods, or NAMs, will weaken protection from chemical hazards. This is in direct contradiction with the European Commision’s previous commitment to promote and develop non-animal testing methods, as well as the recognition that safety assessment of chemicals needs to be improved.
Notably, the Commission acknowledged in its Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability that:
Safety testing and chemical risk assessment need to innovate in order to reduce dependency on animal testing but also to improve the quality, efficiency and speed of chemical hazard and risk assessments.
Scientists, policy-makers and industry generally agree that the safety assessment approach of today’s EU regulation will need to change significantly in order to achieve the objective of a “toxic-free environment”.
In our response, Eurogroup for Animals noted that:
- Reliance on animal testing approaches has many drawbacks, including time inefficiency and uncertainty of results.
- Extraordinary scientific progress continues to be achieved in a wide range of fields developing and using NAMs, including in regulatory safety sciences.
- Non-animal safety assessment methods are thoroughly validated, and therefore moving towards NAMs will not weaken the protection of human health and the environment.
- Innovative approaches based on biological processes can be introduced in REACH, following examples such as the work by APCRA or EFSA.
In order to achieve the goal of better identifying dangerous chemical properties, REACH must make a paradigm shift towards the use of non-animal approaches based on existing and new fit-for-purpose methods and toolboxes of next generation safety assessments.