Working to replace chemical tests on animals
Hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide are used every year in an attempt to test the safety of chemicals. These experiments are also called toxicity tests, which traditionally involve guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, birds, rats and mice.
In the European Union a new piece of legislation called REACH was implemented in 2007. REACH stands for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals. Its purpose is to establish whether an estimated 30,000 existing chemicals are safe for humans and the environment, and to control the use of those judged to present a risk. Sadly, animal testing is being used to establish the safety of these chemicals.
Chemical companies had until 2018 to register their substances with the European Chemicals Agency. Shockingly, we have estimated that over 2 million animals have been used and killed so far in this process. Unfortunately, it is not over, and the Agency continues to demand animal tests for substances as they review their safety and use.
What we do
We challenge the need for new animal tests and push for greater efforts to promote their use of non-animal methods. We are expert stakeholders, representing animals, at the European Commission, the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods and the European Chemicals Agency.
We support companies appealing decisions to test on animals at the Agency's Board of Appeal if we believe there has been an error of law or procedure. We have already been involved in several successful cases that have prevented the deaths of thousands of animals, as well as helping to improve the decision-making of the Agency.
We work with our partner members of the International Council on Animal Protection at the OECD (ICAPO) to ensure that all opportunities to avoid animal tests and encourage the use of non-animal methods are made possible within the testing guidelines of key international body, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Cruelty Free International, acting on behalf of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), was involved in the negotiations during the creation of REACH in the early 2000’s. We were able to make sure that the regulation stated that companies must share their testing data, avoiding duplication of animal tests and that animal testing should be a 'last resort'. Official estimates had suggested that up to 13 million animals would be poisoned and killed during the process, but we have estimated that it is more likely to be around 6 million. We believe therefore without our input the numbers would have been much higher.
In 2016, we pushed the European Commission to update REACH to delete the rabbit skin and eye irritation (Draize) tests (saving 18,000 rabbits), to encourage the avoidance of the cruel dermal acute toxicity test (saving 66,00 rats) and to encourage the use of non-animal methods for skin allergy testing (potentially saving 200,000 mice).
Our work commenting on proposals to test on animals, which is an opportunity given in the REACH legislation, has, to date, helped to save over 80,000 animals. Our experts continue to provide scientific arguments to encourage both the Agency and the companies to halt plans to conduct animal tests required under REACH.
The science relating to animal experiments can be extremely complicated and views often differ. What appears on this website represents Cruelty Free International expert opinion, based on a thorough assessment of the evidence.