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Today, legal and scientific representatives for the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) will be presenting the case against the conduct of a cruel rabbit test at the European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki (ECHA).
The ECEAE successfully applied earlier this year to ‘intervene’ in what was the first animal testing appeal case being heard by the Board of Appeal. The case is now going through an oral hearing as the Board approaches its decision. Members of the Board, which independently reviews complaints about decisions made by the ECHA, will hear from both the companies involved, the ECHA and the ECEAE, the only NGO so far to be given permission to intervene in such cases.
In September 2011, chemical manufacturer Honeywell appealed against a decision made by the Agency which had ordered them to conduct a cruel and unusual rabbit test. The test was to be an inhalation experiment whereby up to 120 rabbits may be individually confined and forced to inhale refrigerant gas for 90 days before being killed. An earlier test in rabbits caused some of them to die and the Agency wanted to repeat the test to see if the animals really are more sensitive to the substance than rats who have already endured this experiment. The substance is used in sealed car air conditioning systems and repeated exposure to humans is very unlikely. The company felt, as we do, that another test would be cruel and unnecessary.
The ECEAE, which is a registered observer stakeholder at the Agency, was pleased to be given the opportunity to intervene in the appeal case. We will be arguing that the Agency has made a hasty and disproportionate decision in ordering such an inhalation test which would cause such suffering and stress to rabbits. Other approaches, such as investigating why the rabbits in the previous study died and using cell-based methods to see which species is closer match to humans, should have been a first step.
Dr Katy Taylor, the Senior Science Advisor to the ECEAE, who will be presenting at the hearing, stated "The ECEAE is appalled by the requirement for this test which will involve great suffering as rabbits are forced to inhale a refrigerant gas for 90 days. We are dismayed by the Chemical Agency's stance on this and hope the Board of Appeal will consider this case carefully."