SEOUL—Humane Society International is celebrating a successful end to its campaign in South Korea to abolish the use of beagles in long-term testing of pesticides. This follows an announcement by the country’s pesticide authority that it will join the United States, European Union, India, Canada and Japan in removing the unnecessary 1-year dog test requirement.
The decision was announced as a part of the “2018 Regulatory Innovation” project by Korea’s Rural Development Administration to harmonize pesticide regulation internationally, following intense pressure from HSI, industry and members of Korea’s National Assembly. This represents the final step in a nearly 20-year effort to abolish this cruel and needless test. More than 250,000 HSI supporters worldwide signed the petition to abolish the outdated test.
HSI Vice President of Research & Toxicology Troy Seidle stated, “We welcome Korea’s decision to abolish this unnecessary and inhumane test on dogs but urge the Rural Development Administration to move more swiftly toward the replacement of obsolete animal test requirements and the adoption of new approaches once the scientific evidence is in. It is unacceptable that thousands of beagles have been made to suffer needlessly for two decades due to bureaucratic foot-dragging.”
Pesticides are among the most extensively animal-tested products in existence. As many as 10,000 rodents, fish, birds, rabbits, dogs and other animals are killed in government-required toxicity (chemical poisoning) tests for every pesticide chemical authorized for use. There is a great deal of redundancy in current requirements, such as repeating the same test in two or more species, or via different routes of exposure (force-feeding, forced inhalation, skin contact). Scientists have questioned the value of the 1-year dog test since the late 1990s, and its removal from government test requirements across the globe has been a gradual process driven by a variety of stakeholders, including HSI.
HSI’s team in Korea has briefed Rural Development Administration officials and the Korean Society of Pesticide Science on this topic, and HSI was responsible for bringing this issue to the attention of members of the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs and Oceans & Fisheries. During the Assembly’s 2017 inspection process of government ministries, agriculture committee member Mr. Wanju Park urged the administrator of RDA to do more to reduce animal testing for pesticide tests, to which the administrator responded that RDA will strengthen its efforts to replace animal testing.
Mr. Park stated, “I applaud the authority’s decision to stop unnecessary animal suffering of dogs for the testing of pesticides. I hope this is one of many more progressive regulatory changes to come by the RDA.”
Although RDA’s recent announcement is encouraging, HSI notes with disappointment that the December 2017 updated test guidelines continue to require animal tests where non-animal replacement approaches are readily available, particularly in eye and skin irritation tests involving rabbits. HSI is urging Korean authorities to move more swiftly to adopt internationally recognized test methods and to collaborate more actively across ministries to lead regulatory science into the 21st century and away from outdated animal testing.
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