As early as 2004, the European Commission estimated that 2.6 million animals would be used for chemical safety testing prompted by the introduction of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. Eighteen years later, with the publication of the Commission’s far-reaching Chemicals Sustainability Strategy (CSS) in 2020, things look even worse. which contains a number of provisions aimed at better protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of chemicals.
The CSS notes that “animals still need to be used systematically for chemical testing,” and Cruelty Free Europe estimates that increased requirements being introduced under the CSS will result in millions more animals being used in new tests will suffer and die for REACH. Over 1.5 million animals could be used just for the registration of selected polymers under REACH and we estimate that at least 3.6 million animals will be used in new tests to try to identify and characterize endocrine disruptors. Our worst-case estimate is significantly higher. Options recently considered by the Commission to amend the REACH information requirements to allow for the detection of critical hazards at all production levels would result in two million additional animals being used in new tests for substances already registered under REACH.
These numbers show that the Commission needs to act urgently to change course. First of all, the Commission should propose that the objective of ending reliance on animal testing be firmly incorporated into REACH itself, to signal that this really is a priority for the EU. As requested by the European Parliament last September, it should develop a strategy to achieve this goal. The Commission could also propose expanding the mandate of the European Chemicals Agency to give it a more central role in promoting non-animal methods and aligning the agency with the European Medicines Agency and the European Food Safety Authority, both of which are proactive in refraining from animal testing. Crucially, it could include a mechanism in the revised REACH regulation to ensure that non-animal substitute methods are included in REACH and their use actively promoted as soon as they become available, rather than the current system which is slow and bureaucratic. Importantly, it could focus funding and other resources on developing and adding to the growing toolbox of new non-animal approaches.
The protection of people and the environment is fundamental and non-negotiable – we too want a pollution-free environment – and that is exactly why we have to say goodbye to animal testing.
Tests cause immense suffering for 10 million animals in EU laboratories every year and exchange us all. Many of the animal testing methods used today are decades old and have never been validated to modern standards, meaning their usefulness has never been proven. Not surprisingly, they often generate untrustworthy, misleading data that provides a poor basis for regulatory decisions. In contrast, modern non-animal methods are proven to be reliable and relevant. This is evident in the area of skin sensitization, where non-animal approaches predict human outcomes with up to 85 percent accuracy, compared to the most widely used animal test, which is only 74 percent accurate.
Since non-animal methods are faster and cheaper than animal testing, many more chemicals and mixtures can also be tested than would be possible with animals. Scientists and regulators are striving to develop and implement a non-animal approach to developmental neurotoxicity – a critical hazard highlighted by the CSS – because testing all chemicals using available animal testing would take too much time and money to be feasible.
In theory, the EU aims to completely replace animal testing, with this ‘ultimate goal’ enshrined in the Directive on the use of animals for research and testing. While this goal is reflected in the rhetoric within the CSS itself, its defined actions do not tell the same story. The CSS promises have set Europe on course to use millions of animals in new chemical tests, and unfortunately the Commission is showing little interest in changing course. The public consultation poll on the REACH revision was littered with biased and leading questions that, without justification, portrayed the increased use of non-animal testing methods as detrimental to the identification and characterization of critical hazards, international harmonization and competitiveness, the latter despite industry support for one Increased use of non-animal methods -animal methods.
Regardless of how you feel about the ethics of using millions of animals in new tests, the inescapable truth is that trying to achieve the CSS’s goals with inappropriate animal testing compromises the goal of achieving a toxic-free environment. We call on the Commission, Parliament and Council to use the CSS review of REACH as an opportunity to demonstrate much more clearly the EU’s commitment to humane and people-related science – not just for the benefit of the animals in laboratories, but To ensure this Best possible methods are used to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of chemicals
 Van Der Jagt K, Munn S, Torslov J, De Bruijn J. Alternative approaches can reduce the use of laboratory animals under REACH. EUR 21405 EN. ground floor; 2004. JRC29111
 European Commission. Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability: Towards a Toxic-Free Environment. 2020. Available at:
 Calculations on request.
 European Parliament. Plans and actions to accelerate the transition to animal-free innovation in research, regulatory testing and education. September 16, 2021. Available at:
 European Commission. Animals used for scientific purposes – EU statistical reports on the use of animals for scientific purposes. Available at:
 Small spreader NC, et al. Non-animal methods for predicting skin sensitization (II): an evaluation of defined approaches. Crit Rev. Toxicol. 2018;48(5):359-374.
 Fritsche E, Grandjean P, Crofton KM, et al. Consensus statement on the need for innovation, transition and implementation of developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) testing for regulatory purposes. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2018;354:3-6. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2018.02.004
https://www.politico.eu/sponsored-content/a-critical-moment-for-safe-chemicals-without-animal-tests/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication A Critical Moment for Safe Chemicals - Cruelty Free - POLITICO