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GREEN NEW ORDEAL: Two million animals stand in firing line of EU’s new sustainable chemical ambitions

As a key part of the European Green Deal, the requirements in the EU’s chemical strategy for sustainability would see an additional two million animals used for testing.

NATASHA FOOTE: Requirements in the EU’s chemical strategy for sustainability would see an additional two million animals used for testing unless a concerted effort is made to invest in alternatives to animal testing, stakeholders have warned.

Presented in October 2020, the chemicals strategy is intended as a first step towards a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment as a key part of the European Green Deal.

While its unveiling was widely welcomed as a step forward for human and environmental health, its presentation sparked concerns at the time from stakeholders, who warned that this would result in an increase in animals used for testing to fulfill its aims.

And, with more details emerging about the strategy’s ambitions, it seems these concerns are well-founded, according to stakeholders from the chemical industry.

Speaking at the annual conference of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), Dorothee Funk-Weyer, vice president of chemicals company BASF, pointed out that the dossier as it currently stands is already causing additional testing.

This means that, as the strategy’s ambitions kick into gear to address the polymers of concern and place a stronger focus on neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity and endocrine disruption, the expected associated developments of regulatory data requirements will further fuel this.

“All of [this] will lead to more testing,” Funk-Weyer warned, estimating that more than two million additional animals would be required for this additional testing.

Green MEP Tilly Metz positioned herself as a staunch proponent of the chemicals strategy but warned that the number of animals used in testing will increase if it is not “implemented in the right way”…

Highlighting concerns over the “one substance, one assessment” approach, which aims to streamline chemical assessments, McIvor said that animal protection organisations and the regulatory scientists working within the mirror group both fear this could result in the loss of expertise in using non-animal approaches developed over the years.

Panelists stressed that now is the time to revisit testing strategies, highlighting the potential of non-animal methodologies (NAMs), given that these can in some cases actually produce more accurate data. SOURCE…

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