Politics / Law
Progress in cutting animal testing
Parma – European food watchdog EFSA has summarised the current capabilities of in vitro tests to reduce, replace and refine (“3Rs”) animal testing in food safety assessment. Its 77-page report tabled in June concluded that “at present, the tests cannot provide the information that can be derived from in vivo tests.” But it also recommends stimulating their use and development, with full replacement of animal tests as a long-term goal. According to the authority’s scientific committee, the most progress has been made in the area of eye irritation testing, where four in vitro methods allow classification of severe eye irritants. In genotoxicity testing, initial tests are often carried out in vitro, but currently need to be confirmed by in vivo methods. In the area of skin corrosion testing, in vitro-tests are established by law. A skin irritation in vitro test should receive OECD approval soon. Important areas where in vitro testing would be required but are currently not available include toxicokinetics assessment, acute toxicity testing, skin sensitation testing and tox testing with complex endpoints such as repeated dose toxicity, ecotoxicity, and reproduction/development toxicity testing.