Thank you to the constituents who have contacted me about duplicate testing of chemicals on animals. No animal should be made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation, and I share your concerns about the prospect of duplicate testing.
As you will be aware, Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) requires substances that are manufactured in or imported into the European Economic Area to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency. It then provides a regulatory framework to control or restrict the use of hazardous substances based on those registrations.
REACH plays a role in keeping animal testing to a minimum, by requiring that animal testing can only be used to meet registration requirements as a last resort and by facilitating data sharing of testing results. Registrants are expected to share safety and testing data needed for registration to avoid duplicate and unnecessary testing.
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020, REACH continues to have effect in the UK until the end of the transition period. Following this, the Government is to put in place a separate UK REACH regime.
The Government recently stated that:
“After the transition period we will establish our own independent chemical regime. Although both the UK and EU will operate REACH frameworks, the two systems will not be linked in any way. This means that companies wishing to retain access to the UK market will be required to notify and submit registration data to the Health and Safety Executive within given submission deadlines to confirm the registrations and ensure compliance with UK REACH”.
My Labour colleagues and I are concerned that the implementation of UK REACH may result in the duplication of testing on animals as well as lower environmental and health and safety standards and we will continue to urge the Government to ensure that this is not the case.
More broadly, I believe we should consider a comprehensive review of animal testing, with a view to improving practice, limiting animal suffering and increasing transparency, with a long-term objective to phase out animal testing entirely.