Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection

EMBARGO 11.00 HOURS

TUESDAY 12th MARCH 2002

EU CHEMICALS POLICY WILL LEAD TO UNACCEPTABLE MASS ANIMAL TESTING AND EXTRA BURDENS ON INDUSTRY, SAY LORDS

A House of Lords report urges the UK Government to challenge proposed reform of EU industrial chemicals laws which could lead to:

  • chemical tests on an estimated 12 million animals.

  • an increased burden on the chemical industry to test up to 30,000 chemicals marketed pre 1981.

  • extremely complicated and contentious legislation which would merge existing EU regulatory systems in a single regime.

The House of Lords European Union Committee report recommends:

  • well-funded development of more non-animal testing to analyse risks of potentially harmful chemicals.

  • tougher legislation to ensure that the most dangerous chemicals are tackled first.

Lord Crickhowell, Chairman of the inquiry, said:

"The European Commission has taken on more than it can handle. The arrangements for testing and authorising chemicals marketed over the past 20 years work perfectly well. It is the older chemicals that are the problem. The Commission's big bang approach of trying to roll everything into one system is a mistake. The deadlines are unrealistic and resources underestimated. The Commission must get its priorities right and tackle first the chemicals that pose the greatest risks.

Regrettably the Commission has glossed over the fact that a huge number of animal tests would be needed to carry out its proposals within the time scale suggested. Well-funded programmes to develop alternative testing methods must now be at the top of the agenda."

 The Committee sums up its view on animal testing issue in a key passage:

"The White Paper provides a rare opportunity to generate the political will in the EU to promote non-animal testing. The United Kingdom Government must take a lead in this and should make it clear in the Council that it cannot accept a new chemicals strategy that leads to significantly increased animal testing, since this would be unacceptable to the public and lead to failure of the strategy. The EU chemicals strategy must be linked to an EU strategy for minimising animal testing."

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1 The European Commission's White Paper, Strategy for future Chemicals Policy (COM(2001)88), was published on 27 February 2001.

2 The inquiry, which began in April 2001 and held 13 public hearings, was conducted by Sub-Committee D (Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection) of the European Union Committee, whose current membership is:

Baroness Billingham

Lord Christopher

Lord Crickhowell

Lord Dubs

Lord Fyfe of Fairfield

Baroness Maddock The Countess of Mar

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord Palmer

The Earl of Selborne (Chairman)

Lord Walpole

To avoid any conflict of interest with Lord Selborne's chairmanship of the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum, the inquiry was chaired by Lord Crickhowell. The Specialist Adviser to the Inquiry was Mr Nigel Haigh OBE, formerly Director of the Institute for European Environmental Policy.

3 The Report is published by The Stationery Office: Reducing the Risk: Regulating Industrial Chemicals, HL Paper 81, ISBN 0-10-407102-8. The text (without evidence) will be on the Internet on publication, accessible via http://www.parliament.uk.

4 Wider aspects of animal testing are currently being considered by the separate Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures. (For details, telephone 020 7219 5358 or email [email protected])

Further information from:

Enquiries about the Report

Tom Radice (Clerk to the Sub-Committee) on 020 7219 3015

Press facilities

Jillian Bailey on 020 7219 8659

Requests for advance copies

Shaun Connor on 020 7219 5791

[ENDS]