European Commission releases progress report on development of animal testing alternatives

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

European Commission releases progress report on development of animal testing alternatives

Related tags: European union, European parliament

The European Commission has presented its yearly report to the European Parliament and Council highlighting the development of alternative methods to animal testing in cosmetics, but is yet to confirm the full marketing ban will be implemented by 2013.

The report published by the EC stresses the continued commitment in Europe and worldwide to find alternative approaches. Despite this commitment and progress in research finding alternative methods for testing, the Commission says these remaining ‘complex endpoints’ will not be possible by the 2013 deadline.

Instead the Commission is currently assessing the impact of the entry into force of the ban in 2013 without alternatives and will decide on next steps on the basis of the full impact assessment.

Increasing pressure

The EC has been under increasing pressure from various groups and even celebrities to enforce the marketing ban, and it has announced the final decision will be announced at the end of this year.

Health and Consumer Commissioner, John Dalli said "Over the last 20 years more than 200 million euros has been dedicated to research in this area in the EU and the commitment to finding alternatives to animal testing continues both in Europe and worldwide.”

“This research and development has not only reduced the number of animals used in testing, it is at the same time yielding important results in terms of better science to the benefit of consumer safety."

Validated alternative methods have been made available for the identification of corrosive substances, skin irritants and severe eye irritants, skin phototoxicity and skin penetration as well as to assess genotoxicity.

The EC also pointed out that significant advances have been made in reducing the number of animals used in tests, for example in relation to acute toxicity.

However, it is still currently assessing the impacts of the implementation of the full marketing ban by 2013 (environmental, animal welfare, economic and social) and on the basis of that assessment the EC will decide whether or not to make a proposal in relation to the marketing ban.

Cosmetics Directive

The Cosmetics Directive prohibits animal testing in the EU of finished cosmetic products since 2004, and animal testing of ingredients of cosmetic products is prohibited since 2009.

A marketing ban is also in place in the EU which prohibits selling cosmetic products containing ingredients which have been tested on animals irrespective of the place of the testing after March 2009.

For many of the tests needed to ensure the safety of cosmetic products, the EC claims alternative methods are developed and validated by now. However, the report states that work continues to close the remaining gap for the small number of the most complex effects on health for which the marketing ban deadline comes into force in March 2013.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Animal Testing

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