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October 28, 2015

Humane Society International and Korea Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments Host General Assembly Forum on 21st Century Alternatives to Animal Testing in Korea

Modernising chemical safety testing: investing in human biology-based approaches of the future

Humane Society International, Korea Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments

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Government, industry and science stakeholders discussed cutting-edge test methods to improve chemical testing in Korea while replacing or reducing animal use, at a General Assembly Forum this week hosted by Humane Society International and Korea Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments. Supported by Congresswomen Sangjeong Sim and Jungrim Moon, with presentations from cosmetics giant Amore Pacific and the Korea Institute of Toxicology amongst others, the forum discussed the urgent need to update Korea’s chemicals law, K-REACH, and prioritise investment in 21st century approaches to safety testing.

Twenty-first century toxicology refers to innovative human-relevant research tools such as bioengineered organs-on-a-chip, robot-automated high-throughput human cell and gene tests and next-generation computer modeling, that are transforming safety testing around the world by enabling scientists to study how chemicals react in the human body at the cellular and molecular level. As well as improving the quality of research and potentially replacing animal testing altogether, these methods being pioneered in the United States and Europe can produce results at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional animal methods.
In 2007, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a report “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy” calling for a new approach to safety and risk assessment by moving away from conventional animal testing. That report sparked a cascade of research initiatives around the world focused on harnessing these modern techniques.

However, in Korea, investment in alternative methods remains relatively uncoordinated, and focused mainly within the cosmetics industry in advance of Assembly approval of a bill to restrict cosmetics animal testing. The need to accelerate adoption of alternative tests is particularly acute in Korea’s chemical industry, as the K-REACH regulation that came in to effect in January this year calls for animal testing to be minimised, yet prescribes obsolete animal test requirements for which validated and internationally recognized alternative methods are available. 

Troy Seidle, director of research & toxicology at Humane Society International, said “This is the first time that Ministers from across the Korean government have gathered to discuss the exciting potential of alternative test methods, and how Korea can future-proof its research base. Modern science is providing new tools with the potential to transform the way we test chemicals and products, so support from the government to advance these technologies across Korean industries will be vital.”

You can help: Become a Lab Animal Defender.

Experts from Amore Pacific, ChemOn and the Korea Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments provided an overview of alternative test methods across the cosmetics and chemical industry, and the Korea Institute of Toxicology will present the importance of Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOP) development, recognised by the OECD, U.S. and EU as one of the key areas for regulatory toxicology. Seidle provided expert advice to the OECD and EU-REACH on alternatives to animal testing, and gave the Forum an insight into advancing safety science and health research. 

Professor Yongjin Chun, director of Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments, said “I hope this forum will provide an opportunity to recognise the importance of developing alternative test methods to actively seek budget allocation for research with political support.” 

Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

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