Korea’s state-of-the-art alternatives science is being overlooked

Humane Society International / South Korea

Jacob Studio/iStock.com 

SEOUL (July 30)—With South Korea’s National Assembly set to review a bill to promote non-animal research methods later this year, a new opinion poll reveals that the majority of the Korean public want to see their tax money spent on supporting these advanced approaches instead of animal testing. Almost 82% of respondents want to see the 21st National Assembly session demonstrate legislative support for alternatives to animal testing, which includes approaches such as human organ-mimics and tests using human-derived cells instead of experiments on mice, monkeys and dogs.

The nationwide opinion poll conducted by independent polling company Realmeter, and commissioned by Humane Society International/Korea, comes just a month after official statistics published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs revealed a total of 3,712,380 animals used for testing in 2019. The statistics showed an alarming 187% increase in animal use for testing insecticides, a 115% increase in the number of animals used to test industrial chemicals, a 77.8% increase in animal experiments in education and training, a 40% increase in pharmaceutical quality control animal testing, and a 9.7% increase in animal experiments in the most severe pain category.

South Korea’s high level of animal use persists despite efforts by many Korean scientists to rapidly develop human-relevant methods. Unfortunately, even internationally recognised non-animal methods are not well promoted by government or industry. The majority of laboratories in South Korea certified as “Good Laboratory Practice” by the Ministry of Environment still use animals even where internationally recognized alternatives are readily available, and few of Korea’s contract testing facilities even offer non-animal test options.

Borami Seo, Humane Society International/Korea’s senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said, “South Korea’s scientists are at the forefront of efforts to develop superior non-animal methods to better understand and treat human disease faster and more effectively. And yet without a legal framework to promote the use of these methods, they are all too often being ignored. Among other achievements, South Korean companies have developed a human cornea model to replace animal testing for eye irritation that has been accepted as an official test method by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; are incorporating gene editing technology into human cell-based models for drug screening for Wilson’s disease; and are establishing human organ-mimetic models to develop next-generation 3-D cell technology for drug development. Yet despite all this innovation, Korea’s regulatory framework is still biased towards the old ways of animal testing, which isn’t benefiting animal welfare or human health. That has to change.”

Summary of poll results

  • 83.4% agree that the Korean government should increase funding to support animal testing replacement;
  • 81.3% want to see their tax money spent to support studying non-animal methods using human organ mimetic approaches or human-derived cells;
  • 83.8% support increased cross-ministerial collaboration to expand research fund for alternatives to animal testing;
  • 81.6% support anticipated legislation to promote alternative research instead of animal testing during this new 21st session of National Assembly;
  • 66% agree that testing that inflicts pain on animals needs to improve to avoid animal suffering;
  • 76.9% were not aware of alternatives to animal testing being available that are more predictive and modern than using animals.

South Korea’s failure to embrace the full potential of non-animal methods stands in stark contrast with countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States, where there is a concerted effort to eliminate the use of animals to test chemicals, pesticides and other products. In January 2017, the Dutch government announced plans to phase out animal use for chemical safety testing by 2025, and is on track to achieve this goal. Belgium’s Brussels-Capital Region banned animal testing on cats, dogs and primates effective January 2020, and by January 2025 it will also ban animal use in education and safety testing unless deemed absolutely necessary. And in September 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency made a commitment to reduce mammalian testing requirements by 30% by 2025 and to completely eliminate them by 2035.

Last month, HSI and Assembly member In-soon Nam co-hosted an Assembly forum to discuss legislation to promote non-animal research techniques in safety and biomedical sciences, ‘the Act on the Promotion of Development, Distribution and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods’. Participants from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Korea Institute of Toxicology, the Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments, Dana Green Bio, as well as legal experts from the National Assembly’s Legislative office, the Korea Legislation Research Institute and the Korean lawyers’ group People for Non-Human Rights, agreed on the need for a new research regulatory framework in Korea.

HSI/Korea’s Borami Seo said, “The future of scientific research lies in state-of-the-art, non-animal approaches like human organoids, organs-on-chips and next-generation computing and AI, not in poisoning, dissecting or genetically modifying mice, monkeys and other animals. This new opinion poll clearly shows that the vast majority of Koreans agree that the government should be taking serious action to advance the use of non-animal approaches. It’s time Korea followed the example of the United States, the Netherlands and other innovation economies that have made a serious investment in non-animal technologies. It’s been six decades since the concept of non-animal testing was introduced to the scientific community and yet animal use in Korean laboratories remains unacceptably high. We urge our government to become a global leader in non-animal science not only to protect animals from suffering, but also to accelerate more effective and predictive product safety and medical research for the benefit of the public.”


Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org


The nationwide poll of 1,000 respondents age 19 and older was conducted in June 2020 using an automated telephone survey method. Margin of error is ±3.1% with the 95% prediction interval.

Humane Society International / South Korea

Jacob Studio/iStock.com

SEOUL—Proposed new legislation that would require Korean regulatory and research funding ministries to promote the development and implementation of non-animal alternatives in safety and biomedical sciences will be examined at a National Assembly expert forum on June 30. Assembly member In-soon Nam and Humane Society International/Korea will co-host the forum.

The legislative initiative follows the release of government statistics revealing a shocking spike in the number of animals subjected to painful chemical-poisoning and other experiments in 2019, including forced feeding, inhalation, eye and skin tests without pain relief to assess the toxicity of insecticides (+187%), industrial chemicals (+115%) and pharmaceuticals (+40%).

Assembly member Nam said: “I believe this is a timely subject for discussion. We are living in the 21st century now, so it is only appropriate to discuss a new legal framework that will advance the current science policy for human patients and laboratory animals. As a member of the Health and Welfare committee, I am pleased to support this initiative and invite other science stakeholders to join in the discussion.”

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said: “The proposed legislation provides the legal ground for the government ministries to fund the development of advanced and scientifically superior human-mimetic tools for testing and disease research, or to accept the findings from these proven non-animal methods. Time and again we’ve found that the only way to get some ministries to change their behaviour is by changing the law. It’s been six decades since the concept of animal testing alternatives was introduced to the scientific community and yet animal use in Korean laboratories remains at an all-time high. Our systems of research funding and experimental regulation are in urgent need of reform.”

The forum, chaired by Prof Kyung-min Lim from EWHA Women’s University, will feature presentations from the Korea Legislation Research Institute, the Korea Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods and HSI/Korea. The panelists include officials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea Institute of Toxicology president Chang-woo Song, Dana Green Bio CEO Ki-woo Kim, National Assembly legislative officer Jung-cheol Goh, Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments vice president Gwang-man Kim, and People for Non-Human Rights lawyer Coochwa Suh.

Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time:   1400 KST

Place:   National Assembly

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, only pre-registered guests will be admitted to the Assembly building to join the forum.

Last year HSI organized Korea’s first cross-ministerial forum to explore legislation to boost government funding for human-specific, non-animal approaches for testing as an alternative to experiments on mice, rats, dogs and monkeys that too often fail to predict human disease outcomes in the real world. After this forum, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety carried out a review of the proposed legislation, which led to a series of stakeholder meetings and a revised legislative proposal.

Leading companies and academic research groups across the globe are harnessing the power of non-animal human-relevant models to study and develop treatments for diseases ranging from cancer to COVID-19:


Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

Humane Society International and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organisations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org and biomed21.org.

Humane Society International / United States


WASHINGTON—Humane Society International and the Humane Society of United States have supported a fast-track research grant for non-animal approaches to investigate mechanisms, medicines and vaccines for the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The organizations believe that understanding the biological mechanisms that make humans especially susceptible to COVID-19 is urgently needed to inform the development and evaluation of effective countermeasures.

Laboratory investigations of human disease often attempt to artificially reproduce a condition in animals. Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a flood of studies have described infecting mice, hamsters, ferrets, monkeys and other animals with COVID-19. Yet most report that the animals used were either immune to the new virus, or manifested symptoms that differ substantially from the human condition, including in the most severe clinical outcomes. In addition, the animal-based approach is limited in its ability to predict the impact of comorbidities— the presence of two chronic diseases—in COVID-19 patients, or how the various treatments could impact or worsen the infection.

“We have great faith in the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing as a source of funding for research with the potential to spare humans, as well as animals in laboratories, from suffering caused by COVID-19,” says Kitty Block, president and CEO of HSUS and CEO of HSI.

The two organizations’ donation of $20,000 to the CAAT grant program aims to stimulate innovative and inherently human-relevant solutions for COVID-19. Models based on human biology—from cell and tissue cultures to complex organoids, organs-on-a-chip and computational tools—can help scientists understand the mechanisms of disease progression and rapidly identify interventions that are effective and safe in a human biological environment.

The groups previously released a multi-pronged policy plan for preventing another global health crisis like COVID-19.

– 30 –

Media contacts:

  • HSUS: Emily Ehrhorn, Senior Specialist of Media Relations, eehrhorn@humanesociety.org, 301.258.1423
  • JHU: Michael Hughes, CATT communications manager, mhughe18@jhu.edu, 410.614.4920

Humane Society International and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organisations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at humanesociety.org.    

Subscribe to Kitty Block’s blog, A Humane World. Follow the HSUS Media Relations department on Twitter. Read the award-winning All Animals magazine. Listen to the Humane Voices Podcast.  

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, founded in 1981, is part of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a European branch located at the University of Kostanz, Germany.

CAAT promotes humane science by supporting the creation, development, validation and use of alternatives to animals in research, product safety testing, and education. The center seeks to effect change by working with scientists in industry, government, and academia to find new ways to replace animals with non-animal methods, reduce the numbers of animals necessary, or refine methods to make them less painful or stressful to the animals involved.

Humane Society International / South Korea


SEOUL—Humane Society International/Korea is calling on legislators to back a series of tough new legal measures to address the lack of progress by Korea’s relevant regulatory and research funding ministries toward reduction and replacement of animal testing. Statistics on laboratory animal use in 2019 published this week by Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency[1] revealed a marginal 0.4% decrease in total animal use compared to the previous year (3,712,380 in 2019 compared to 3,727,163 in 2018), together with alarming increases in animal use for testing insecticides (+187%), industrial chemicals (+115%), education and training (+77.8%), pharmaceutical quality control testing (+40%), production of genetically modified animals (+12%), and experiments in the most severe pain category (+9.7%).

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said: “These statistics make it clear far Korean authorities and science funding ministries have to go to fulfill their stated commitment to replace, reduce or even minimize the most severe suffering in animal testing. The future lies in human mimetic non-animal approaches like human organoids, organs-on-chips and next-generation computing and AI, not in poisoning or genetically modifying mice, monkeys and other animals. It’s time our government followed the example of the United States, the Netherlands and other innovation economies by making a serious investment in non-animal technologies to advance safety science and medical research.”

HSI/Korea has been working with members of the National Assembly and key ministries to make research and regulatory testing with non-animal approaches a higher priority. For example, Korean chemical, pesticide and pharmaceutical authorities should reflect on their performance in comparison to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s commitment to reduce mammalian testing requirements by 30% by 2025 and to completely eliminate them by 2035. Korean science funding ministries should look to European and American funding programs for organ-on-a-chip technologies to advance drug testing and human disease research.

Assembly member In-soon Nam and HSI will host an Assembly forum on June 30 to discuss a new legislative initiative to promote the development, distribution, and use of alternatives to animal testing methods. Presenters include officials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the president of the Korea Institute of Toxicology Chang-Woo Song, the vice president of the Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments Gwang-Man Kim, CEO of Dana Green Bio Ki-woo Kim, and HSI/Korea. Additionally, legal experts from the National Assembly’s Legislative office, the Korea Legislation Research Institute and the Korean lawyers’ group People for Non-Human Rights will join the discussion.


Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

  1. MAFRA’s full statistical report for 2019 is available online (in Korean).

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Guy Harrop/Alamy

LONDON–Around the world, billions of animals suffer for our food, fashion, beauty and entertainment. Many of them lead deprived, miserable lives confined in unnatural conditions or are subjected to deliberate cruelty. It doesn’t have to be that way. By changing our lifestyles to make more compassionate choices, we can all be animal defenders. This World Animal Day on 4th October, global animal charity Humane Society International shares its top tips for preventing animal suffering.

1. Eat less / no meat and dairy

With more than 80 billion land animals reared and slaughtered globally for food every year, not to mention the nearly 3 trillion fish pulled from the ocean and countless more raised on aquatic factory farms, industrial scale animal agriculture is not only one of the biggest animal welfare issues on our planet, it is also one of the leading contributors to climate change and deforestation. For example more than a third of all British egg-laying hens are still locked up in cages, confined to a space not much bigger than a sheet of A4 paper.

By switching to a more plant-based diet, we can spare animals from suffering on factory farms, reduce water and air pollution, as well as help combat climate change through reducing the carbon footprint of our food choices, and conserve precious planetary resources. Moving towards a more plant-based plate also benefits our health as diets high in fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

2. Choose cruelty-free cosmetics

Hundreds of thousands of animals still suffer and die each year around the world to test shampoo, mascara and other cosmetic products and their chemical ingredients. Terrified mice, rabbits, rats and guinea pigs have substances forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes or smeared onto their skin before they are killed. Cosmetic animal tests are archaic chemical-poisoning experiments devised more than half a century ago, such as rodent “acute toxicity” tests (1920s), rabbit eye and skin irritation tests (1940s) and guinea pig skin allergy tests (1950s). By contrast, modern non-animal methods are faster, more accurate at predicting human responses, and less expensive than the animal tests they replace.

HSI and our partners are leading the global effort to ban cosmetic animal testing in the world’s largest and most influential beauty markets. Our #BeCrueltyFree campaign has been instrumental in driving the European Union to become the world’s largest cruelty-free cosmetic market, and in securing subsequent bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and in seven states in Brazil. Nearly 40 countries so far have banned cosmetics animal testing.

3. Say no to exploiting animals for entertainment

Around the world, many thousands of animals are exploited for entertainment, from the slow-death sadism of bullfights and cockfights to the neglect and mistreatment of captive marine and land-dwelling wildlife kept for display. The suffering of animals only continues for as long as the public pays to watch, so we can all help by not participating. Bullfights are not “fair fights,” but highly staged forms of government-subsidized animal cruelty that perpetuate the idea that the torment and killing of animals for amusement is acceptable, so please don’t attend these events when in Spain, France or elsewhere. Up to 8,000 lions suffer in captivity in South Africa, bred in appalling conditions for the lion cub petting industry in which tourists pay to bottle feed and take selfies with cubs. Ethical tourists have the power to shut down this industry by removing their custom. Wild animals in circuses, traveling shows and attractions often receive insufficient water, food and shelter, lack veterinary care, can be subjected to repetitive and stressful training, and can spend hours chained or confined. Camels, elephants, donkeys and horses used for tourist rides and safaris are often malnourished and physically abused, and suffer open wounds. Elephants are often stolen from the wild when young, illegally trafficked, broken after capture and punished with bullhooks. They are forced to carry excessive weight, suffer sores and diseases, and receive inadequate care. Whales and dolphins also suffer for entertainment – the natural habitat of orcas and other marine mammals simply cannot be replicated in captivity, and swimming with dolphins increases demand for captive animals, including from brutal “drive fisheries” such as the Taiji hunt in Japan.

4. Reject ‘delicacy’ meat

Across Asia, around 30 million dogs and 10 million cats are brutally killed for meat, most of them stolen pets or strays grabbed from the streets. In South Korea dogs are raised on farms and killed by electrocution; elsewhere in Asia they are usually bludgeoned, hanged or more rarely, boiled alive. In China, Vietnam and Indonesia, hundreds of dogs and cats can be crammed onto a single truck, driven for hours or days without water, food, protection from the extremes of cold and heat, and many suffering broken limbs, shock and disease. The World Health Organization warns that the trade, slaughter and consumption of dogs poses human health risks from trichinellosis, cholera and rabies. More than 70 million sharks are also killed annually for shark fin soup. The trade involves cutting off a shark’s fin, often while it is still alive, and dumping the animal back into the sea to die slowly. Don’t be tempted to eat shark fin soup, or dog or cat meat as “bucket list” items when travelling, as it merely perpetuates this brutal and often illegal trade.

5. Don’t wear fur

Millions of foxes, mink, raccoon dogs, rabbits and coyotes die every year for fashion. Confined in small, wire-mesh cages on factory farms or captured by painful metal traps in the wild, their fur is turned into frivolous keychain trinkets or trim on coats and hats. The average life span of an animal intensively farmed for fur is just eight months, after which mink will be gassed and foxes and raccoon dogs will be electrocuted. These terrible conditions can create psychological disorders, causing the animals to constantly pace and circle the boundaries of their cramped space, as well as fighting between cage mates and even cannibalism. Fur – and leather – are also incredibly polluting industries. The dressing and tanning processes, which stop the animal’s skin and pelt from decomposing as they would naturally do, use toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, cyanide, lead and chromium which can be released into waterways and devastate wildlife. These products are only natural whilst they are still on a living animal, after that the processes used to preserve and dress leather and fur are anything but earth-friendly. For the estimated 100 million animals killed for fur, life is typically a miserable existence. The future of fashion is compassion, with cruelty-free alternatives becoming more popular than ever with ethical consumers.


Media contact: United Kingdom – Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org

3.52 million mice, dogs, monkeys, rabbits suffered and died in UK labs in 2018

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Andrei Tchernov/iStockphoto

LONDON—Home Office statistics published today[1] reveal a shockingly high number of dogs, mice, cats, rabbits and other animals are still suffering in invasive, painful and sometimes lethal experiments in British laboratories despite unprecedented availability of high-tech and often more human-predictive non-animal approaches.

The Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 2018 show that a total of 3.52 million procedures were completed in the UK in 2018, including tests on mice (1.1 million), rats (170,665), birds (146,860), rabbits (11,159), guinea pigs (6,445), monkeys (3,207), dogs (4, 481), cats (159), horses (10,424) and fish (300,811). A total of 87,557 animals were subjected to severe suffering, the highest category allowed under the law.

Humane Society International Senior Scientist Dr Lindsay Marshall, who for 12 years managed a laboratory dedicated to animal-free research into respiratory diseases, said: “As a scientist myself, I know all too well the drawbacks of relying on animals to study and treat human disease. The fact is that animal models fail far more often than they succeed, so it’s hugely frustrating and worrying to see the UK, year after year, failing to move away from outdated animal experiments. It’s high time UK research funding bodies stopped squandering British taxpayer money and charitable donations on dead-end research, and made a serious investment in human organoids, organs-on-a-chip, computerised systems biology models, and other advanced, non-animal technologies that are the true future of modern medical research.” 

The government made a commitment in 2010 to reduce animals used in scientific research, but almost 10 years after this declaration of intent[2], the UK remains one of the highest lab animal users in Europe. In those same years, non-animal technologies that can produce faster, cheaper and more human-relevant results, have advanced enormously:

  • Computers are much better than animals at predicting possible toxic effects of chemicals and drugs[3].
  • The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells has helped to remove the ethical barriers to stem cell use[4].
  • Scientists have created human-mimetic systems of almost every organ in the body. There is a human-on-a-chip for drug testing[5], a patient-on-a-chip is not far away[6] and chips have travelled to space to investigate the impact of ageing on the human body[7].

Dr Marshall is not alone in her opinion. A raft of academic reviews from expert scientists in a range of fields reach the same conclusion for conditions as diverse as autism, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease[8] and they call for more investment in human-relevant methods.

Dr Marshall continues: “Despite staggering advances in scientific technology, medical research in Britain remains irrationally wedded to broken animal models. If our government is truly committed to advancing medical progress for its citizens, and to reducing the use of animals in laboratories, significant funding must be redirected from animals to human-mimetic approaches, rather than the paltry 3% of the UK annual research spend that non-animal methods receive at present.”

The recent closure of two mouse breeding facilities[9] illustrates the growing recognition within the scientific community that a paradigm shift away from animal use is essential for medical progress. Recognition that fewer animals are required due to a “rise in the use of alternative technologies”[10] is a step in the right direction, yet the Home Office animal use statistics indicate that there is much more work required to reduce the body count.


  • Despite the ever-increasing growth in animal procedures, there is no corresponding increase in the number of human medicines making it to the clinic. In recent years, both the European Medicines Agency and US Food and Drug Administration approved fewer new drugs than they had been approving earlier in the decade.
  • Most animal models are poor predictors of human response, with over 90% of new candidate drugs never making it to patients. That’s because pharmaceutical compounds that appear ‘safe’ and ‘effective’ in animal trials fail to deliver the same result when given to people; 55% do not effectively treat the condition for which they are intended, and almost 30% show signs of toxicity that were not seen in animal tests[11].
  • Advances in gene sequencing and phenotypic analysis in humans is ushering in the era of precision medicine, and focused funding and efforts on human-relevant technologies like these are more likely to provide disease understanding and much-needed new treatments.
  • Nearly 560,000 experiments in 2018 were deemed to have caused moderate or severe suffering to animals. Moderate suffering is described by the Home Office as causing short term moderate pain or distress to animals while severe suffering causes long-lasting extreme pain or distress.


Contact: Dr Lindsay Marshall, 07719 531 675, lmarshall@hsi.org

Notes to editors:

  1. 2018 Home Office statistics: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/818578/annual-statistics-scientific-procedures-living-animals-2018.pdf
  2. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110718/wmstext/110718m0001.htm
  3. Passini, et al. 2017 Human In Silico Drug Trials Demonstrate Higher Accuracy than Animal Models in Predicting Clinical Pro-Arrhythmic Cardiotoxicity. Front Physiol.8:668.
    Luechtefeld et al. 2018 Machine learning of toxicological big data enables read-across structure activity relationships (RASAR) outperforming animal test reproducibility. Toxicological Sciences. 165 1, 1 September 2018: 198-212
  4. https://www.eurostemcell.org/ips-cells-and-reprogramming-turn-any-cell-body-stem-cell
  5. https://hesperosinc.com
  6. Edington et al. (2018) Interconnected Microphysiological Systems for Quantitative Biology and Pharmacology Studies. Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 14;8(1):4530. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22749-0
  7. https://ncats.nih.gov/tissuechip/projects/space
  8. Savoji, et al. 2018 Cardiovascular Disease Models: A Game Changing Paradigm in Drug Discovery and Screening. Biomaterials. 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2018.09.036
    Boeckmans et al. 2018. Human-based systems: Mechanistic NASH modelling just around the corner? Pharmacol Res. 134:257-267. 10.1016/j.phrs.2018.06.029
    Muotri, A. R. 2016. The Human Model: Changing Focus on Autism Research. Biol Psychiatry. 79;8:  642-9.
    Bowman, et al. 2018. Future Roadmaps for Precision Medicine Applied to Diabetes: Rising to the Challenge of Heterogeneity. Journal of Diabetes Research. 10.1155/2018/3061620
    Clerc, et al. 2016. A look into the future of ALS research. Drug Discov Today. 21;6: 939-49
  9. https://www.sanger.ac.uk/news/view/sanger-institute-animal-research-facility-close
  10. https://chemicalwatch.com/77872/sanger-institute-announces-closure-of-animal-research-facility
  11. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/iccvam/meetings/iccvam-forum-2019/06-lee-ncats_508.pdf

Humane Society International / South Korea

Feeding a drug to a mouse

SEOUL — Korean laboratory animal statistics published this week by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs revealed record-high animal use in 2018, and that one in every three animals in a Korean laboratory (38%) is subject to a chemical poisoning experiment – the most severe category of experiment, in which animals are denied pain relief. In total 3,727,163 rodents, rabbits, dogs, fish, monkeys and other animals were used in Korean experiments in 2018, an increase of 21% over the previous year.

The continued upward trend in animal use has been slammed by Humane Society International as a reflection of the ongoing failure of Korean product safety regulators and industry to use all available non-animal approaches to testing and assessment for chemicals and other products. Local demand for animal testing under the Korea Act on Registration and Evaluation, etc of Chemical Substances (K-REACH) and Biocidal Products Act (K-BPR) are believed to be major contributors to this trend, because the government statistics show that companies used the overwhelming majority (89%) of animals, compared with national and public institutions (less than 9%).

Alarmingly, the statistics also revealed that 2,167 animals were used in 2018 for cosmetics testing in Korea despite the Cosmetics Act reform bill, which came into effect to limit animal use in 2017.

HSI Senior Policy Manager Borami Seo said, “It’s disgraceful that Korean companies are still performing cosmetic animal testing after the government has banned this practice, and that more than a million animals were made to suffer last year in the cruelest of animal tests for the sake of chemicals and other products. It’s an unacceptable betrayal to consumers, who mistakenly believe that cosmetics sold in Korea are now cruelty-free, and does little to improve consumer or environmental protection because tests on rodents, dogs and other animals are so often poor predictors of human response. It’s time for private testing facilities and public institutions to get serious about adopting existing non-animal approaches, and for Korean authorities to accept and require use of such methods when available instead of calling for new animal testing. We look forward to working with scientific communities in promoting the use of advanced technology such as in vitro bio-mimetic and computational methods, as well as investing their resources for human-relevant research, replacing animal use.”

HSI has been working closely with Korean politicians in the National Assembly to address the explosion in animal testing through legislative revisions to K-REACH and K-BPR to make it compulsory for regulatory authorities and companies to use available non-animal methods to the fullest extent possible. HSI is also working to establish legislation that will support scientific studies and research based on human-relevant methods without using animals.


Animal use by testing purpose

Research area % Animal number
Regulatory test 38.0 1,415,631
Basic research 29.4 1,095,412
Translational & applied research 24.1 897,113
Production of genetically engineered animals 3.5 129,838
Etc. 3.1 114,518
Research for species conservation 1.4 51,910
Education or training 0.5 18,851
Forensic 0.0 1,322
Environmental protection research for human or animal health or welfare 0.0 568
Total 100 3,727,163


Use of animals by institutions under regulatory testing category

Institutions % Animal number
National/public institutions 8.5 120,268
Universities 2.0 27,930
Medical institutions 0.4 5,995
Companies 89.1 1,261,438
Total 100 1,415,631


Use of animals under toxicity and other safety assessments category

Regulatory toxicity and other safety assessments % Animal number
Test for human pharmaceutical related law 46.3 167,134
Test for animal pharmaceutical related law 5.3 19,194
Test for medical devices related law 18.6 67,121
Test for industrial chemicals related law 6.7 24,353
Test for plant protection product related law 4.2 15,177
Test for insecticide, pesticide related law 0.5 1,756
Test for food related law 6.1 22,114
Test for animal feed related law 0.0 46
Test for cosmetics related law 0.6 2,106
Other 11.6 41,998
Total 100.0 360,999


Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org