Posted by Dr Katy Taylor on 26th June 2019
European Ombudsmen asks Commission to speed up adoption of non-animal alternatives
Ombudsman responds to our complaint about slow implementation of alternatives
Last year, we submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman about the length of time it takes for the European Commission to regularly update the Test Method Regulation (TMR) with new alternative methods to using animals to test chemicals in Europe.
The TMR Regulation is a list of standardised tests (both animal and non-animal) that can be used to assess the safety of chemicals under EU chemicals legislation REACH. The Commission is mandated by REACH to amend this document ‘as soon as possible’ so that it reflects current standard test methods for chemical safety testing.
However, in our complaint we demonstrated that, on average, there are currently delays of at least four years from the scientific validation of a non-animal method (or a method that involves fewer animals and inflicts less suffering) before it is published in the Regulation. This means that animals could be suffering needlessly in tests that have been replaced by superior and more humane methods to generate the information required by EU law.
The European Ombudsman has now responded to our complaint and while they have ruled that there has been no specific maladministration , they have recommended that the Commission should “intensify its efforts to simplify and speed up the process for introducing new alternative test methods under the TMR” and “ensure where feasible, that it carries out the other steps necessary for updating the TMR in parallel with the OECD’s verification process”. We have however asked for a review of the decision as we still believe there is maladministration in the approach the Commission takes to update the Regulation by waiting for methods to be adopted more internationally.
We don’t think administrative burden should be used as an excuse for delaying the implementation of testing methods that are more superior and humane. We have been horrified to find that years can pass before alternative methods are placed into the Test Methods Regulation, leaving companies unsure as to which method they should be using and putting innocent animals at risk. We are delighted the Ombudsman agrees that the process must be speeded up and look forward to seeing the adoption of more effective and human-relevant non-animal alternatives in European chemical testing.