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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Call for alternatives to REACH

reachThe European Union has launched a major testing programme to assess the risks from chemicals. many of which have never undergone formal assessment, but a new article says the scheme is unreliable and has suggested a biomonitoring programme to replace it.

Writing in the journal Medicolegal and Bioethics, Andre Menache, of Antidote Europe, Perpignan, France,  and Candida Nastrucci, of  University of Rome, “Tor Vergata”, Italy, say that looking for biomarkers in blood and urine would provide a more accurate assessment of chemical risk than planned animal tests.

The European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) scheme has been introduced because very little is known about the potential toxicity of many chemicals currently in use.

It requires that all chemicals marketed in the EU in a quantity over 1 tonne per year are registered and a technical specification lodged for each one. That document must include results of tests.

The paper says that an estimated 9 million to 54 million animals might be needed to meet the regulations. The authors say: "These tests rely in large part on animal models. However, based on empirical evidence and on well-established principles of evolutionary biology and complex systems, the animal model fails as a predictive modality for humans."

They believe a human-based system would be more effective. "These concerns raise significant ethical and legal issues that must be addressed urgently. Immediate measures should include a major biomonitoring program to reliably assess the chemical burden in European Union citizens as a means of prioritising the most dangerous substances present in the environment."

The full article is available here: http://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=10625

Archived September 11 2012