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EC publishes latest update on animal testing

By Andrew McDougall , 13-May-2011

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its latest report on alternative methods to animal testing and concluded that it may take years for non-animal testing to become fully available.

The report on Alternative (non-animal) methods for cosmetics testing: current status and future prospects – 2010, was published as a series of scientific articles in a peer-reviewed journal, and highlights the most important findings of the experts.

It will also serve as an important input for the Commission's report to the Parliament expected in mid-2011.

In 2010, the Commission appointed a panel of experts to report on the current status and future prospects on alternative (non-animal) methods for cosmetics testing, and to provide realistic estimates of the time required for the development of alternative methods where not already existing.

Under review

The resulting expert panel report underwent a period of public consultation. The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), hosted by the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission's JRC, coordinated the whole review activity on behalf of the Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumers.

The experts concluded that considerable scientific challenges have to be overcome before a full replacement of animal tests will be possible.

Whereas substantial progress has been made over the past years, they predict that, for five specific areas, alternative methods to fully replace animal tests will not be available by 2013.

However, the experts noted that significant contributions to reduce, refine and partially replace animal testing have been made and are feasible before full substitution is possible.

Criticisms over state of play

Back in March, animal testing opposition group, the BUAV, published a report that challenged the current state of play on the European Union's attempts to ban animal testing for cosmetics ingredients.

The BUAV said that the report is aimed at challenging the European Commission’s current ‘assumptions about the necessity of animal testing for cosmetics’.

It detailed proven alternatives to animal testing on ingredients and outlined approaches already taken by various companies worldwide to avoid animal testing on any ingredients used in cosmetics.

It also expressed its desire for both the Commission and the European Parliament to not delay the 2013 deadline banning all animal testing on cosmetics ingredients and to speed up the approval of alternatives for the remaining animal tests.