Presentation: Working Together to Replace Animal Testing for Assessing the Safety of Consumer Products – pioneering change, building confidence & next steps

Julia Fentem

The Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) organised a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, by W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch, on 22nd November 2019 at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, USA. The symposium featured many eminent scientists and policy leaders in the field of alternatives to animal testing, who shared their personal reflections and key learnings from past activities and their thoughts on the future. In her presentation, Julia discussed how:

1. Policy and Legislation have stimulated Change and scientific Progress, with reference to EU policy to ban animal testing for cosmetics and how this meant that scientists had to re-think how to do product safety assessments with new non-animal approaches. She outlined the work that Unilever has done over the past 15 years, in partnership with other scientists globally, in defining and starting to implement a new paradigm for safety assessment based on an exposure-led, tiered approach and application of a next generation risk assessment (NGRA) toolbox.

2. Working Together across all stakeholders has been key to making progress, highlighting successful research programmes, such as EUToxRisk; multi-stakeholder working groups that have led on regulatory application of new approach methodologies (NAMs) for safety assessment, for example activities supported by the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR); and activities to build this new capability globally, such as the Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA) collaboration being coordinated by Humane Society International.

3. Progress would be Faster if we weren’t constrained by traditional Beliefs & Assumptions. Fortunately, our next generation of safety assessors do not believe that only animal tests can provide the data needed to protect consumers, workers & our environment from hazardous chemicals. They are readily embracing new science & technology and applying it for more human-relevant evidence-based safety decision making; and they are more open to “having a go” with NAMs and seeing how far we can get with NGRA approaches.

4. Case Studies on Application of NGRA / NAMs for Safety Decisions are building Confidence. To be confident in our decisions as safety assessors, it is critical that we develop skills and experience in how non-animal data are applied in an integrated way to make decisions. Sharing and collaborating on ‘case studies’ helps build knowledge and capability more broadly: for example, the NGRA framework and data for Unilever’s coumarin case study; and the non-animal consumer safety assessment supporting the use of a novel biosurfactant (rhamnolipid) in a new hand dishwash product.

5. We must leverage the Accelerating the Pace of Chemical Risk Assessment (APCRA) intergovernmental initiative to Pioneer Change with NAMs for Regulatory Chemicals Testing. To avoid any animal testing of new ingredients in consumer products we now need to re-think chemicals registration requirements. This is a high priority given that citizens, NGOs and industry want to see a big reduction in mandatory animal testing. The US EPA is leading the way, having announced a policy change in September 2019 to eliminate funding for all mammalian studies by 2035; and several regulatory authorities are now collaborating to build their capability in the application of NAMs for chemicals safety evaluation. To accelerate change beyond the US and build confidence with NAMs for assessing new chemicals, policy makers and regulators should all strengthen their commitments, drive more transparency and broaden stakeholder involvement.

View the slides here.

A recording of this presentation is available here.


Comments are closed.