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January 17, 2019

South Korea biocidal products law amendment introduced to promote replacement of animal testing

Humane Society International

Seoul—Global animal welfare leader Humane Society International has once again collaborated with South Korean National Assembly member Jeong Ae Han to reverse the country’s increasing use of animals in laboratories through legislative reform, this time by amending the Korean Chemical Consumer Products and Biocides Safety Act to require the use of recognized cellular, computational and other alternatives to vertebrate animal testing whenever possible (bill no. 2018185).

The biocides law includes management of products that may potentially expose people and/or the environment to chemical substances, such as cleaning agents and detergents. Because biocides are designed to be toxic to some organisms, they are subject to extensive pre-market testing requirements, which can kill thousands of rodents, rabbits, fish, birds and other animals for each product approved for market.

Korea’s two major chemical laws, Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemical Substances (K-REACH) and the Biocides Act came into effect in 2015 and 2019 respectively to strengthen the management of chemicals. However, there has been a growing concern that these laws are driving the construction of new animal testing facilities in Korea, contributing to the country’s soaring number of lab animals. As a first step toward addressing this problem, HSI collaborated with Assembly Member Han to advance a bill amending K-REACH, which was introduced and passed the National Assembly in 2018. Dr. Han’s new bill proposes nearly identical changes to Korea’s biocides law to protect animals.

A 2018 national public opinion poll by Realmeter on behalf of HSI revealed that 85 percent of Koreans would like to see their tax dollars spent on alternatives to replace animal testing. Another 85 percent of respondents support increased government funding to replace animal testing, and 88 percent support legislative action to require companies and scientists to use non-animal alternatives in testing.

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea acting executive director and senior policy manager, urged the passage of the amendment, saying, “Thousands of animals are dying because of K-REACH and Biocides Act. Unless the government and industry proactively develop alternatives, it is only a matter of time before Korea becomes a massacre site for lab animals. In addition, support for developing human-relevant testing methods to replace animal use is necessary to improve human safety and risk assessment.”

Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

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