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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The New EU Chemicals Policy: Challenges and Chances for Animal-free Test Methods

Ursula G. Sauer

As a first step toward preparing new chemicals legislation, in February 2001, the European Commission adopted a White Paper on a Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy. Its main goals are to better protect humans and the environment from unknown risks through chemicals. The “promotion of nonanimal testing” is one of the key elements of the proposed strategy. For low production volume chemicals, only data from in vitro tests are to be requested. The data requirements for higher production volume chemicals will be designed flexibly, so that only data relevant for the respective chemical are collected. From the point of view of animal welfare risk management, strategies should be defined before test batteries are put together. The test catalogues currently listed in the Dangerous Substances Directive, Council Directive 67/548/EEC, are to be replaced by flexible, tiered-testing strategies, and concrete waiving strategies are to be designed. The avoidance of duplicate testing should become mandatory. In order to fill prevailing knowledge gaps, the funding of alternative method research should be given priority by the EU Commission, and thus should receive a concrete budget. It should have been formulated as a key action in the European Sixth Research Framework Programme.