August 27, 2009

New EU Laws May Create Increase In Animal Testing

Scientists on Wednesday called for a review of far-reaching European safety rules on tens of thousands of chemicals used in everything from car seats to face cream that will lead to a surge in animal testing, Reuters reported.

The recent report published in the journal Nature said the regulations might require 54 million research animals and cost $13.6 billion to implement over the next 10 years. They reported that was 20 times the number of animals and six times the cost previously anticipated.

Companies are now required to assess the toxicity of chemicals that date from before the era of mandatory testing under the European Union's REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) legislation that went into effect two years ago.

The number of chemicals pre-registered for REACH by industry had vastly exceeded expectations, pointing to a vast volume of testing, according to a new analysis by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study's author, toxicologist Thomas Hartung, said he supported the aims of REACH and called it the "biggest investment into consumer safety" ever.

But he cited concerns that they may have underestimated the scale of the challenge, adding that investment into developing alternative research methods to meet REACH goals was urgently needed.

"Up to 101,000 chemicals could be covered by REACH, which is three times earlier estimates," said Hartung and co-author Constanza Rovida.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, animal rights groups wrote to European regulators calling for curbs on unnecessary animal tests.

Some manufacturers have even stated concerns that the REACH legislation may push up costs.


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