SEOUL—South Korea’s National Assembly last week passed a bill revising the Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemical Substances (K-REACH) to require companies, the country’s Ministry of Environment and its subsidiaries to prioritize adopting alternative methods to animal testing. The initiative is based on a legislative proposal developed by Humane Society International (HSI) aimed at minimizing duplicative animal testing in Korea, and compelling a transition to available alternative approaches, a process which has been slow to date.
Since K-REACH came into effect in 2015, HSI has uncovered evidence that the Korean government itself was funding repeat animal testing of chemicals instead of supporting data purchase agreements with international companies or consortia that possess existing test data for the chemicals in question. HSI and National Assembly member Ms. Jeong-ae Han have hosting several Assembly forums and round table discussion with stakeholders to call attention to this problem, end to urge the environmental authorities to advance their research budget in the development of more predictive and human-specific 21st century testing technologies such as organs-on-a-chip.
The revised law establishes a definition of “vertebrate animal alternative test” coupled with a legal responsibility for both business entities and government authorities to “prioritize vertebrate alternative testing when producing risk and hazard information for chemicals” (Articles 4 and 5), and specifying that “testing shall not be repeated for the same chemicals” (Article 16-2).
Borami Seo, HSI’s senior policy manager for Korea, said “This is significant in that policymakers and chemical regulatory bodies recognized, for the first time in the law, the importance of replacing cruel and outdated practice of animal testing. This will support more research into non-animal testing methods that will better predict human safety while saving tens of thousands of animals. We thank Congresswoman Han for leading this positive change for lab animals as well as everyone who signed HSI’s #ScienceWithoutSuffering petition in support of the bill.”
Media contact: Borami Seo, email@example.com