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We win landmark case against use of animals in EU chemical tests

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European Court confirms animal tests must only be used as a last resort

Cruelty Free International has helped win a landmark case against the unnecessary use of animals in European chemical tests, after a European Court of Justice ruling reaffirmed that, under EU chemicals legislation REACH, the principle of animal testing as a last resort must be fully respected.

Esso Raffinage, a division of ExxonMobil, was required by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to conduct a developmental toxicity study on animals to fill a gap in its data. This type of study uses hundreds of animals.

Esso argued that it could avoid animal tests by demonstrating the safety of its chemical using evidence from other sources, but ECHA refused this option.

The ECHA decision was taken to the European Court of Justice which allowed Cruelty Free International, acting for the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, to intervene and submit arguments against the need to conduct the tests.

The Court has now ruled to confirm that under REACH legislation, animal tests must only ever be carried out as a last resort, stressing that this principle applies even after ECHA has made a decision that animal tests must be carried out. ECHA also has a duty to consider alternatives put forward by companies at this stage.

Dr Katy Taylor, Our Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs, says:

“We welcome this important decision. It underlines that the last resort principle must be respected at all stages of the REACH process and not simply paid lip service to. The Advocate-General, who advises the Court, described the conduct of unnecessary animal tests as a devastating result.

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity of helping to shape EU caselaw in this way.”