Animal Aid


Posted 15 November 2005

In a crucial November 17 vote, the European Parliament will have its say on the future of the massive EU-wide REACH (1) safety testing programme, under which millions of animals are destined to be poisoned to death in an attempt to establish the toxicity of more than 30,000 chemicals.

Ahead of next week's key decision, national campaign group Animal Aid launches a revealing new report, called Lethal Business: the use of animals in toxicity testing. This lays bare the scientific shortcomings of using animals for safety tests and the resulting risk to public health of such a policy.

Written by Animal Aid's Scientific Consultant, Andre Menache MRCVS, the report describes the suffering inflicted on animals in typical toxicity tests. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, haemorrhage, breathing difficulties, severe irritation, seizures and, eventually, death. The report's principal focus, however, is the lack of 'concordance' between different animal test species and human beings. There is even, it notes, a massive difference in the way young rats respond to common medical drugs compared with adult rats.

Equally important, Lethal Business sets out a range of non-animal testing methods that are quicker, cheaper and provide species-specific data.

A vote on October 4 2005 saw the MEPs' Environment Committee reject animal testing for chemicals produced in volumes of up to 100 tonnes per year (2). This achievement - if endorsed on November 17 - will go some way towards creating a more humane - and scientific - testing programme. The November 17 vote provides all MEPs with an opportunity to choose an overall strategy that adopts modern, accurate and relevant non-animal test methods.

States Andre Menache, Animal Aid's Scientific Consultant:

'Animal Aid recognises the need to safeguard human health and to protect the environment from toxic chemicals. But our new report demonstrates that animal toxicity tests fail to provide data that is relevant to people. The adoption of advanced non-animal methodologies is an absolute priority. If the REACH strategy goes ahead as currently planned, millions of animals will die agonising and pointless deaths by having chemicals forced down their throat, injected under their skin or squirted into their eyes. It is time we consigned such primitive horrors to the dustbin of history.'

View the Lethal Business report.

Notes to Editors

  • A copy of Lethal Business has been sent to all MEPs.
  • To arrange a media interview with Andre Menache, please call 01732 364546, ext 33.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  1. REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) proposals deal with 30,000 'existing chemicals' marketed before 1981 and produced in, or imported into, the EU at volumes exceeding 1 tonne per year; as well as 3,000 'new substances' i.e.: those marketed after 1981. The REACH proposals were published in October 2003.
  2. MEPs voted to reject animal tests for chemicals produced or imported in amounts between 1 - 100 tonnes per year. Approximately 20,000 chemicals produced in volumes more than 100 tonnes p.a. would still involve animal testing.
    The REACH proposals are going through 'Co-decision' debate between the EU Parliament and Council of Ministers. After the EU Parliament's First Reading, the Council will form a common position and Parliament will vote again, probably early 2006.

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