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February 6, 2017

South Korean Environment Ministry chided for overlooking modern animal testing alternatives in chemical laws

New biocides law and K-REACH revision miss crucial opportunities to advance safety science and animal welfare

Humane Society International

  • Many tens of thousands of animals could be saved from the wasteful repetition of animal tests. istock

Humane Society International has filed comments with South Korea’s Ministry of Environment denouncing the government’s failure to follow through on its commitment to expand its support of alternative approaches to animal testing in recent legislative proposals to revise the Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (K-REACH) and establish the new Life Chemical Products and Biocide Safety Management Act. HSI’s technical submissions highlight unreasonable delays in uptake of available animal testing alternatives under K-REACH, ongoing difficulties for companies in purchasing existing test data to avoid wasteful repetition of animal tests, and key policy language from U.S. and European laws that the organization believes should be adopted in Korea to better guarantee that animal testing is carried out only as a ‘last resort.’

HSI’s Korean legal representative, Jihwa Seo, said: “Though the Ministry of Environment’s plan is to improve safety regulations and management of chemical products and substances, its legal proposals suggest that the Korean government is not genuinely interested in replacing animal testing and adopting modern approaches for science. If data sharing is more actively encouraged and duplicate animal testing is strictly avoided while internationally recognized test methods are adopted in the law, many tens of thousands of animals could be saved. It is time for the Korean government to undertake effective and strategic efforts for a safer and more compassionate society.”   

Help us end animal suffering in testing laboratories.

HSI has met with and submitted detailed recommendations to the Environment Ministry, the National Institute of Environmental Research and Korea Environment Corporation, identifying numerous test areas where Korean data requirements and national testing guidelines are out of date, given the state of relevant science and available animal testing alternatives. Last November, Members of the National Assembly hosted a public forum on ‘alternative methods in regulation’ to press government ministries and companies to assign greater priority to animal welfare and the avoidance of animal testing for chemicals, pesticides and other products. 

Facts:

  • At the national inspection hearing last September, the Ministry of Environment said, “though (we are) trying to adopt more alternative methods since 2016, it is not active. With the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Rural Development Administration, we will try to expand our policy efforts to support alternative approaches.”
  • Last year, HSI exposed a pilot project by the Korea Environment Corporation to conduct repeat animal testing of 31 well-characterized substances, including ones classified as corrosive, despite obvious animal welfare concerns and the availability of existing data.
  • More recently, the Ministry of Environment proposed to expand the scope of K-REACH to include an additional 7,000 existing substances, a move that could result in thousands of new animal tests unless alternative methods are recognized and required under the law and data sharing difficulties are resolved.
  • Between 2010 and 2013, HSI worked closely with European authorities and industry to revise legislation for biocides, a process that led to more than 80 revisions to testing requirements, reducing animal use by nearly 50 percent. 

HSI is encouraging members of the public to sign its #ScienceWithoutSuffering petition at hsi.org/koreascience (in Korean only). 

Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org, +82. 2. 6376. 1405

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