19th July 2019
UK government still far from ruling out repeat chemical tests on animals
Our concerns about risk of no-deal Brexit are echoed by industry
If the UK leaves the European Union on 31st October without a deal, it will not be subject to EU chemicals law. Concerns are growing that UK chemical safety rules will at best remain the same as Europe's or at worst, standards will be lowered. These concerns include animal testing.
Exiting without a deal will mean that the UK and UK companies will no longer have the same access to the database built up by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). This database has been built by ECHA through its work on EU chemicals legislation and is now the largest on chemicals in the world. It contains information in English on more than 16,500 chemicals - much of which is the result of animal tests.
Current government proposals for UK chemicals rules require companies to prepare full safety dossiers on their substances within two years in the event of a no-deal Brexit. For a great number of substances already registered under EU REACH, if the data held by ECHA can no longer be accessed, the door is open to duplicate testing on animals if companies are to maintain access to the UK market. The decoupling of UK chemical safety rules from EU law also raises the prospect of even higher levels of chemicals animal testing beyond that which is required in the EU. The organisation representing the UK chemicals industry - the Chemical Business Association - agrees this is unsustainable.
Earlier this year, we worked with cross-party MPs to coordinate a letter to government asking it to rule out duplicate chemical testing on animals as a result of a no-deal Brexit and UK-REACH. To date, the concerns raised by those MPs have not been answered.
"So far, in the face of repeated questioning by industry, politicians and campaigners who all believe there should be no duplicate testing, the government’s response has been deeply disappointing," says Kerry Postlewhite, our Director of Public Affairs. "Comments by the responsible ministry that in a no-deal scenario, the UK will retain the last resort principle to animal testing do not mean that tests already carried out under EU-REACH will not have to be repeated. We are also disappointed that the UK government has not agreed to make a clear commitment to retaining stakeholder participation in the REACH process.”
We urge all UK supporters to please contact your member of parliament and urge them to tell government that duplicate chemicals testing must not be allowed to happen.