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Our complaint leads to EU plans to speed up process for introducing new non-animal tests

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We call for more transparency and deletion of outdated animal tests

This month European authorities are consulting the 27 European Union member states and other interested parties on proposals to dramatically speed up the process for introducing new non-animal methods that could cut the time taken by at least two years.

The Test Methods Regulation (TMR) is a list of standardised tests (both animal and non-animal) used to assess the safety of chemicals under EU chemicals legislation, REACH. The European Commission is required by REACH to update this document ‘as soon as possible’ so that it includes up-to-date standard test methods for chemical safety testing.

In 2018, Cruelty Free International brought a complaint to the European Ombudsman – the person charged with the job of investigating complaints about EU institutions and bodies - about the length of time taken to update the TMR.

We argued that bureaucratic delays of up to three years before new methods were listed in the TMR caused thousands of animals unnecessary suffering and confusion amongst companies about the most appropriate tests to use. These delays compounded the time taken to get the new methods approved in the first place by the international chemicals standards body, the OECD.

Because of the hold-ups, at present 25 of the 66 safety tests for human health (animal and non-animal methods) are now out of date, some of them up to five years behind the latest OECD test guideline versions.

As a result of our complaint, the Ombudsman asked the EU authorities to increase efforts to simplify and speed up the process for introducing new alternative test methods under the TMR.

The current proposal, which we support, would change the TMR into a simple list of OECD test guidelines, speeding up and simplifying updates.

We are now asking the authorities to ensure that the new process is transparent and that it includes new non animal methods so that these can at least be used in the EU to replace animal tests and prevent suffering.

We are also calling for the deletion of outdated animal test methods such as one and two generation reproductive toxicity tests and skin sensitisation tests using guinea pigs.

Case 23/2018/SRS The European Commission’s failure to handle properly the updating of the TMR Regulation with new alternatives to animal testing, case opened 23 April 2018, Decision on 30 January 2019 


Decision in case 23/2018/SRS on how the European Commission updates EU rules on chemical testing when alternative test methods are identified