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Brexit ‘could harm’ efforts towards animal testing alternatives

By Lucy Whitehouse + , 26-Jul-2017

Brexit ‘could harm’ efforts towards animal testing alternatives

Concerns about Brexit’s potential impact onto the UK’s commitment to avoid animal testing have been raised by an animal rights group.

The National Anti-Vivisection Society (Navs) has said that Brexit could undermine the strides being made in the development of alternative methods for testing.

The NGO has raised its concerns in response to the release of official Home Office figures that show that 3,867,528 animals were used for research last year, a decrease of 201,281. This reduction in animal testing is something Navs is keen is maintained and strengthened, and suggests Brexit may jeopardise.

“The NAVS is seeking a clear commitment from government that measures will not be dismantled,” the group states.

Why concerns?

Navs says that it is keen to see continued commitment to the development of animal testing alternative methods, noting: "There are particular concerns that Brexit could harm the development of alternative methods."

Indeed, progress has certainly been made toward testing alternatives since the cosmetics animal testing ban came into force across the EU in 2013. Some key areas of current research in this field can be found here.

Currently, formulators are using alternatives to animal testing for at least one endpoint in 89% of substances analysed in Europe, according to recent figures from the European Chemicals Agency.

Navs also points out that some areas of the law protecting animals and promoting testing alternatives are EU law, and not currently UK law.

These include controls on inspections, detailed recording on cat, dog and primate use, and a commitment to phase out the use of macaques from wild caught parents.

An unlikely shift

Despite these concerns about the impact on developing alternative testing methods, a return to animal testing itself is not on the agenda for the UK.

As Navs notes, the UK is unlikely to allow cosmetics testing on animals again, particularly as the EU Cosmetics Directive bans the import of products that have been tested on animals into the EU, the UK’s largest trading neighbour.

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