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BUAV criticises EU countries for poor funding of non animal tests for REACH

20/02/2012

 

The BUAV, together with our colleagues at the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), has criticised the paltry amount spent by EU member countries to develop alternatives to testing chemicals on live animals. In reports submitted to the European Commission, member countries reported the total investment as only just over 8 million euros per year across all 27 member states. In contrast the European Commission’s own budget for all science in 2010 was 6 billion euros.

According to REACH, each EU member country must submit a report to the European Commission on the operation of the chemicals testing legislation in their countries. These reports include information about how much money is spent on developing alternatives to testing chemicals on animals for the programme. Although these reports were submitted to the Commission on 1 June 2010, they have only recently been published on the Commission’s website.

The ECEAE evaluated the responses from each of the 27 member states to the question ‘What has been the overall public funding on research and development of alternative testing in your Member State each year?’

The ECEAE found that nearly half of EU Member States are unable to report spending anything on developing animal testing alternatives at all:

-           13 of the 27 EU countries were unable to identify any public investment in alternatives

-            4 of the 27 say they invested less than 10,000 euros

-           2 spent between 10,000 and 100,000 euros

-           8 spent up to 1 million euros

The total reported 2010 investment in alternatives was just 8,240,000 euros across all 27 European countries.

Complete alternatives to using animals are urgently required for many of the tests required under REACH, such as repeated dose and reproductive toxicity, which consume hundreds of rats and rabbits per test. The number of animals predicted to be killed for REACH registrations is estimated to be up to 13 million.

One of the central aims of REACH is the ‘promotion of alternative methods for assessment of hazards of substances.’ According to the new EU Directive governing the rules around the use of animals in experiments - Directive 2010/63; the “Commission and the Member States shall contribute to the development and validation of alternative approaches.” 

Dr Katy Taylor, Senior Scientific Advisor at the BUAV states; “We are extremely disappointed by the amount EU countries claim to be investing in developing alternatives to animal testing. Based on these figures, EU countries are just paying lip service to the need to replace the millions of animals who will be killed to test chemicals under the REACH legislation. Countries should not rely on companies to develop alternatives; they also need to take responsibility, and this is what the general public expects at the very least. We are calling on the Commission and all EU member countries to urgently increase their funding of alternatives to animal tests, and urge concerned citizens to write to their Ministers responsible for REACH. 8 million euros between 27 countries is completely unacceptable.”

The BUAV is asking members of the public to write to the relevant Ministers responsible for REACH calling on their government to increase the funding for alternative tests to animals. For the UK the Government department is DEFRA, which stated that less than 1 million Euros went to non-animal alternatives. Please write to the Secretary of State responsible, Caroline Spelman, DEFRA, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.