With the 2009 marketing ban on cosmetic ingredients tested on animals fast approaching the timely discovery and approval of alternative testing methods is vital. Slow and inefficient system The European Parliament has therefore expressed concern that procedures for the regulatory acceptance of validated alternative methods are "opaque, slow, cumbersome and partly inappropriate". This damming diagnosis nearly persuaded the legislative to oppose a draft Commission regulation that aims to bring existing and new test methods under the umbrella of REACH. Currently they are regulated by lots of different pieces of legislation, said European Parliament spokesperson Constanze Beckerhoff. The decision to approve the proposals, which will now be put into force, was taken after a formal commitment was made by the Commission on 5 May to streamline and speed up its regulatory procedures. Criticisms of regulatory proceedures The European Parliament had pointed out that the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) had validated a number of new tests that were not included in the draft regulation. The failure of the Commission to include validated methods was attributed to the fact that they had not been approved for regulatory purposes. The European Parliament stated that slow progress through the regulatory mill was largely due to the priority given to the OECD process of regulatory approval. This it said "entails at best lengthy delays, and may even prevent an alternative method from being put into practice." Promises from the Commission The Commission promised that it will monitor the OECD process carefully in individual cases to ensure that it does not entail undue delays. If unreasonable delays are observed for a particular method the Commission said it would launch the EU process for the method in question. The assurances came after the European trade association Colipa reassured the industry that advances are being made in the race to find alternatives to animal testing. The trade body said in January that three promising in vitro tests for chemical sensitisation will soon be ready for evaluation by the European Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM). The European Parliament and the cosmetics industry will be watching to see whether new alternative testing methods such as these now pass through the validation and regulation procedures faster than their predecessors.