The ECEAE (European Coalition to End Animal Experiments), which is led by the BUAV, has successfully applied to ‘intervene’ in the first animal testing appeal case at the European Chemicals Agency.
In September 2011, Honeywell Belgium N.V. a chemical company, appealed against a decision made by the Agency which had ordered them to conduct a cruel rabbit test. The test, an inhalation experiment would involve up to 120 rabbits forced to inhale refrigerant gas for 90 days before being killed. It is unclear at this point whether the rabbits would be forced into small tubes to inhale the gas for 6 hours a day or whether they would be held in cages for hours at a time while the gas is pumped in. An earlier similar test in rabbits caused many of them to die and the Agency want to repeat the test to get more information. The substance is used in sealed car air conditioning systems and repeated exposure to humans is very unlikely. The company felt, as we do, that another animal test like this one would be cruel and unnecessary.
The ECEAE, which is a registered observer stakeholder at the Agency, was pleased to be given the opportunity to intervene in the appeal case. Today we submitted our legal and scientific arguments to the Board of Appeal at the Agency. We believe that the Agency has made a scientifically flawed and disproportionate decision. Such inhalation tests on rabbits are completely non-standard and almost unheard of, partly because of the severe stress that the rabbits would suffer. Other approaches such as investigating why the rabbits in the earlier study died and using cell based methods to see if humans share the same metabolism as rabbits for the chemical would be a humane and more productive option and provide a real understanding as to whether humans are likely to be as sensitive to the chemical.
Dr Katy Taylor, the Senior Science Advisor to the ECEAE and BUAV stated: "The ECEAE is dismayed by the requirement for such an appalling animal test. It is unacceptable for rabbits to suffer in the forced inhalation of a refrigerant. We are deeply concerned about the Chemical Agency's stance on this and hope the Board of Appeal will overturn the decision."