Around the world animals will now have to suffer less in the name of safety for humans!

In May 2004 the International Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) accepted the first four toxicological test methods involving no animal experiments into the OECD Test Guidelines Programme. The BfR Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) played a major role in the development and validation of these methods. According to Professor Horst Spielmann, Director of ZEBET, “BfR has made an important contribution to replacing the officially prescribed animal experiments with methods that do not require the use of animals.”

Two of the new alternatives to animal experiments determine whether and, if so, to what degree a substance has a corrosive effect on the skin. The two other methods determine the uptake of foreign substances through the skin and the phototoxic properties of substances. Instead of rabbits biotechnologically manufactured human skin models are used to test for corrosive properties. The uptake of substances by the skin is tested using human skin samples and skin samples from slaughter animals or using biotechnologically manufactured human skin models. In the phototoxicity test cell cultures are used instead of experimental animals.

The tests have now been prescribed on the international level by state authorities for the purposes of safety at work and consumer protection in conjunction with the use of new chemical substances. The alternative methods replace stressful animal experiments for the testing of industrial chemicals, cosmetic ingredients, plant protection products and medicinal products.

BfR has financed comprehensive biostatistical analyses, the results of which were an important contributory factor to securing international acceptance (cf. inter alia bgvv Press release 36/2001). In 2001 two OECD expert meetings were held in Berlin. A staff member of BfR had been seconded to Paris and during this time he was able to overcome the scientific reservations in the organs of the OECD Member States about these new methods. Today, the methods are officially recognised by the regulatory authorities in all OECD Member States. This recognition is the precondition for success in terms of animal welfare of a new safety toxicological test method involving no animal experiments. It has now been met by the above four methods.

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