Humane Society International calls for ‘essential revisions’ to EU REACH regulation


Animal welfare charity Humane Society International has published a white paper outlining a proposal to revise the EU chemicals regulation REACH, aiming to modernise the framework and drive uptake of non-animal testing methods.

Published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, the white paper outlined Humane Society International’s proposal on how the EU’s chemicals regulation REACH could be modernised to accelerate wider use of new approach methodologies (NAMs) and push ahead with a truly animal-free cosmetics testing future.

Animal testing on cosmetic products and ingredients had been banned in the EU since 2013 under the EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009, following initial bans on testing for finished products in 2004 and ingredients in 2009. However, the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) REACH Regulation 1907/2006 still sometimes required animal data – particularly in instances like environmental impact and worker safety.

Since the EU ban, new approach methodologies (NAMs) had fast advanced in the field of cosmetics safety assessment and industry was now determined to push for wider acceptance of these methods under REACH, across all end points tested for safety or risk.

Writing in its white paper, Humane Society International said the adoption of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) in 2020 that aimed to improve the quality, efficiency and speed of chemical hazard and risk assessments – part of the wider European Green Deal – offered the EU a “golden opportunity to accelerate a transition to animal-free safety”.

Moving beyond a ‘tick-box’ approach

The authors said that whilst REACH had been created to protect human health and the environment with a central aim of doing so via alternatives to animal testing, it had “instead become a long ‘tick-box’ list of in vivo experiments” with questionable relevance to human health outcomes. And this was despite a clear global trend towards new approach methodologies (NAMs) in chemical safety assessment, they said.

As the EU looked to revise its chemicals regulation in light of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), the authors said proposals presented so far had “significant negative animal welfare consequences”, hence the move by the Humane Society International to issue its own proposal.

“There is still time to correct the course of the ongoing REACH revision,” the animal welfare charity said.

Humane Society International’s proposal was split into three action areas: procedural, technical and structural.

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Cosmetics Design Europe, 26-10-22