The new, Europe-wide chemical testing legislation known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) has now been passed and will come into effect in June 2007. Chemicals that were marketed prior to 1981 (when testing requirements were less stringent) will now have to undergo extensive safety testing. While Animal Aid and many other organisations campaigned for only non-animal methods to be employed, sadly millions of animals will still be poisoned to death in these cruel and unnecessary tests. The best estimate we have is that somewhere between 8 and 13 million animals will die over an 11-year period.
Despite this depressing news, many positive steps were made during the EU legislative process and millions of animals were spared as a result. Thank you to everyone who contacted their MEP, MP, DEFRA or the Department of Trade and Industry to campaign for cruelty-free testing. There is no doubt that your voice influenced the outcome.
Some of the more positive amendments included mandatory data sharing (devised to avoid duplication of tests) and the promotion of non-animal test methods. As REACH is implemented over the coming months and years, there will be opportunities for legal experts to challenge certain animal tests and to have them removed, saving still more lives.
Millions of animals will be sacrificed under REACH but Animal Aid recognises that the outcome could have been even worse had it not been for compassionate people throughout the UK and beyond.