Science based toxicology – Animal Aid backs important new report promoting non-animal safety

Posted on the 1st May 2004

In October 2003, the European Commission presented its latest proposal for a new EU regulatory framework for the testing of chemicals. This is part of the EU's plan to test thousands of substances that have been in everyday use for many years and have not gone through rigorous safety evaluation.

Its new formula – REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) – aims to give industry greater responsibility for managing risks and providing information, thus shifting the burden of proof of safety from government to industry.

Implicit in the proposal is the use of millions of animals in lethal toxicity tests – tests that cause enormous suffering for the victims and provide no protection for human consumers due to crucial biological differences between species.

The proposed EU chemicals testing programme – is such a vast and heavily backed project that it requires the most intelligent and focused opposition that can be mustered.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection has been at the centre of the lobbying activity in the EU corridors of power and has produced two important key documents.

Building on that work is an excellent critique – by French toxicologist Dr Claude Reiss – not just of the EU REACH programme but also of the entire animal-based system of safety testing.

Animal Aid believed Professor Reiss’s document required a much wider audience. We have therefore organised – and borne the costs – for it to be attractively designed, printed and mailed out to key decision makers throughout the UK and Europe.

Dangerously misleading animal tests

Called Science Based Toxicology: a new strategy for toxic risk assessment in the 21st century, Dr Reiss’s report is now in the hands of DEFRA and Trade and Industry Department politicians and officials. It has also been sent to leading figures at all the major pharmaceutical and chemical companies, and to university departments teaching a range of science courses – including, biology, medicine and chemistry.

Professor Reiss, a molecular biologist with more than 40 years’ research experience, is the author of 120 scientific papers that have been published in international, peer-reviewed journals. He is the founder and co-organiser of the European Workshop in Molecular Toxicology.

His simple message is that it is dangerously misleading to use whole animals or animal tissues in seeking to establish whether or not a substance can harm people. His methodology is based on the use of the most advanced technologies to assess the impact of candidate substances on human tissue.

Professor Reiss’s booklet sets out how current animal-based safety testing methods are responsible for harming and killing huge numbers of people in the EU and beyond. He analyses why animal tests fail and sets out a practical and rapid programme for implementing SBT in the EU.

As well as benefits for the general population, SBT systems promise gains for the chemical and drug industries by way of the introduction of testing systems that are more rapid and ultimately cheaper than animal-based methods.

A printed copy of the report is available free on request by contacting our Tonbridge office.

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