|BRUSSELS - The use of animal testing to carry out safety checks on 30,000 commonly used chemicals is necessary but should be limited, the EU executive Commission said on Monday, refusing to consider a ban on experiments.|
The EU will ban the use of animal testing in cosmetics from 2009 but is against a similar prohibition for chemicals. The bloc is overhauling its chemical laws and seeking to tighten safety by testing substances formerly exempt from monitoring.
Animal rights activists say new methods such as computer modelling and human cell testing should be used to check the toxicity of chemicals instead of harming animals.
"This is a very promising science but it's at an initial stage," European Commission official Bjorn Hansen told a seminar. "We do support any effort in reducing or eliminating any animal testing."
The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments said between 1.3 and 3.9 million animal tests could be required to analyse chemicals marketed before 1981 as part of the proposal.
Animal welfare activists said they are worried about multiple testing of the same chemical due to weak provisions in the draft Commission law obliging companies to share testing data.
"We want it (data sharing) to be absolutely obligatory," Eurogroup for Animal Welfare Senior Policy Officer Marlou Heinen told the seminar. "It must under no circumstance be possible to carry out duplicate (animal) testing."
Rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs are among the animals that could be used in the tests, they said.
Green groups and the chemical industry are split over the European Commission draft. Industry says the extra testing will harm competitiveness while green groups feel the draft law should ban chemicals harmful to human health and the environment.
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