European Commission defends progress on animal testing alternatives

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union European parliament European commission

Following an attack by an animal rights group claiming that the ban on animal testing was being unnecessarily delayed, the European Commission has defended its position.

Earlier this month, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) accused the Commission of unlawfully weakening the ban to end animal testing, as well as attacking the conclusions made in the recently released Draft Technical Report.

Findings ‘scientifically over-conservative’

The Commission has invited comments on a Draft Technical Report that contains details of the progress that has been made on alternative tests, as well as estimates for when certain animal tests will be replaceable with non-animal alternatives.

However, according to the ECEAE, the conclusions of this report are ‘scientifically over-conservative’ and lack the understanding of the ‘creative potential of non-animal methods’.

In response, the spokesperson for the European Commission for Health and Consumer Policy Frédéric Vincent, told that the report was authored by 37 experts proposed by different stakeholders, including the ECEAE, to ensure neutrality.

“This wide range of experts, appointed in their personal expert capacity, ensures the report’s scientific neutrality, its objectivity and its complete overview of the issue at stake,”​ he said.

Unlawful practice

In addition to criticizing the conclusions of the report, the ECEAE claimed that the Commission has introduced new tests that need to be developed before a ban can come into force – a practice it says is unlawful.

Under the Cosmetics Directive of 2009 there is both a testing ban in the European Union (a ban on testing cosmetics ingredients on animals) and a marketing ban (a ban on marketing products that contain ingredients that have been tested on animals elsewhere).

However, the marketing ban was introduced in a staggered fashion, depending on the test. Most endpoints, for example skin and eye irritancy, were included in the 2009 ban, but some were scheduled for a ban in 2013.

The ECEAE accused the Commission of adding in two endpoints at the last minute, skin sensitisation and carcinogenicity, which it claimed were not listed in the original 2013 ban.

However, the Commission said skin sensitisation and carcinogenicity were grouped under the repeated-dose toxicity in the Cosmetics Directive and all three were set for a 2013 ban. Furthermore, Vincent underlined that this has been the view held by the Commission services since 2003.

In addition, he explained that this grouping (skin sensitisation and carcinogenicity under repeated dose toxicity) had been communicated many times.

“This grouping has also been consistently communicated to the European Parliament and the Council, notably in the 2005 and 2007 Annual Reports, as well as in the answers to the Parliamentary Questions on this issue,”​ he said.

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