April 8, 2016
Korean Chemicals Regulators Urged to Adopt Animal Testing Alternatives Under K-REACH
Humane Society International scientists recommend sweeping reforms ahead of 2017 deadline
Vast numbers of animals could be spared needless suffering and death in chemical-poisoning tests if the requirements of Korea’s Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (known as K-REACH) were updated to reflect available and internationally recognized animal testing alternatives. That is according to toxicologists representing global animal welfare leader Humane Society International in a submission delivered to South Korea’s Ministry of Environment.
K-REACH entered into force in 2015 and requires the registration (and potential new animal testing) of all new and priority existing chemicals by specified deadlines based on their annual production or import volume. The next K-REACH registration deadline is January 2017 and applies to hundreds of chemicals.
“Science has advanced dramatically since the 1920s and 40s when rat lethal poisoning tests and rabbit eye and skin irritation tests were first conceived,” said HSI science advisor Prof. Kyungmin Lim (Ehwa University, Pharmacy). “We encourage Korean authorities in the Ministry of Environment and National Institute of Environmental Research to move swiftly to ensure that all available animal testing alternatives are fully taken up in K-REACH data requirements and test guidelines before the next registration deadline in 2017.”
HSI’s submission to the MoE and the National Institute for Environmental Research identified numerous opportunities for modernizing K-REACH registration data/testing requirements and better aligning them with other global markets, such as the European Union. A similar proposal made by HSI to the European Commission in 2012 is in the process of being adopted. Already the EU has moved to almost fully replace the use of rabbits in eye and skin irritation testing, to establish criteria for waiving redundant ‘lethal dose’ skin testing, and to implement a more efficient test for toxicity to reproduction, sparing 1,200 animals for each chemical tested. HSI urges Korea to take up these improvements.
Although Article 17 of K-REACH prohibits repetitive generation of vertebrate animal test data, the regulation and its sub-ordinances are not fully up to date with scientific best practices regarding replacement, reduction and refinement (3Rs) of animal use, such as:
- Uptake of all applicable Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 3R test guidelines and other scientifically-supported alternative testing strategies
- Moving away from redundant animal testing via multiple routes of exposure (e.g. oral, skin and inhalation lethal dose or repeated dose tests) or using multiple species (rodents and rabbits)
- Adoption of criteria for waiving animal tests, combining two to more tests into a single study, including adopting more efficient and informative study designs.
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