The REACH project

More than 104,000 animals saved from chemical tests!

Approximately 104.887 rats, rabbits and fish were saved from deadly poisoning thanks to our REACH project, performed in collaboration with our umbrella organization ECEAE since 2009.

Chemical companies are required to register their chemicals with the EU authority ECHA under the REACH regulation and provide comprehensive information. Planned animal experiments must be proposed to the ECHA. The agency then gives third parties the opportunity to find out whether the required data already exists or can be acquired in a way other than by animal testing. This 45 days commenting phase was a great achievement of the animal protection advocates as it was added to REACH as a result from their pressure. 

By March 2017, the ECHA published 1.557 testing proposals for 905 substances open for comments. In cooperation with the ECEAE, our experts commented on 540 testing proposals. In at least 76 cases, we successfully prevented the proposed animal experiments from being conducted. Thus, at least 80.527 animals were spared from animal testing.

These experiments include daily force-feeding rats with test substances for a period of 90 days (repeated dose toxicity); applying test substances to pregnant rats to study the effects on their unborn babies (developmental toxicity); as well as two-generation studies, in which the chemicals are administered to rat mothers, their pups in 2 generations.

Experiments on a further 6.360 animals were prevented due to successful appeal cases. Some companies objected to the requirement by the ECHA of conducting certain animal experiments. We helped the companies and were successful in at least four cases.

Years of intervention by our ECEAE scientists have resulted in the EU removing the skin and eye irritation test on rabbits from REACH in May 2016. This cruel test, in which test substances are rubbed onto the shaved skin or into the eyes of rabbits, was incorporated into REACH, although non-animal testing methods had been approved by the EU already in 2009. The successful, albeit late, removal of the test from REACH will save around 18.000 rabbits.

Overall, at least 104.887 rats, rabbits and fish could be saved from animal experiments thanks to our ambitious joint ECEAE project. Some more positive outcome can be expected as the last phase of REACH with comments on 60 more testing proposals is still to come.

Our REACH project is one of the rare opportunities, in which we know about planned animal experiments and are be able to prevent them. We thank all supporters and donors who supported this life-saving project!

2 July 2020
Dr. Corina Gericke

Further reading

Taylor K: Ten Years of REACH — An Animal Protection Perspective. ATLA 2018; 46: 347–373