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Michelle Thew, the Chief Executive of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), has addressed the 6th European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) stakeholder day which took place on 18th May 2011. The key message of her address was to ask the ECHA, the agency responsible for REACH, to do more to prevent animal testing. She also raised concerns that not all efforts were being made by the agency or industry to avoid animal testing of chemical substances in order to comply with REACH.
The annual event in Helsinki, provides REACH stakeholders with an opportunity to learn about ECHA’s role in the processing of registrations on chemicals and to raise issues. Ms Thew was given the opportunity by the agency to talk about the ECEAE’s work on animal testing proposals; a mechanism in REACH whereby animal testing proposals are open for public consultation before being authorised by ECHA.
The ECEAE has to date commented on all 89 testing proposals that have been submitted and intends to comment on most of the remaining 709 over the next two years. If all these tests are authorised to go ahead by the ECHA, this could result in the death of nearly one million animals.
Ms Thew praised the ECHA for action taken on some animal issues but said that more could be done. She provided examples of where animal tests were being proposed for corrosive substances and even cosmetic ingredients. She asked ECHA to instruct companies to use valid in vitro tests or data from animal tests already conducted before proceeding with more animal tests. Any other request from ECHA, she said, would run counter to the ‘testing as a last resort’ mandate that the EU Parliament inserted into the REACH text.