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The European Commission announced that global efforts to promote alternatives to animal testing were unified at the April 27, 2009, meeting in Brussels via the signing of an agreement by international bodies, including the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which is tasked with the validation of alternative test methods. In addition, the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), its equivalent in the US (ICCVAM), Japan (JACVAM), and Canada's Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau, signed the agreement.
The European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, emphasized, in a press announcement, the positive impact of this cooperation: "Reducing animal testing, both out of concern for animal welfare and ethical issues, and protecting consumer safety are two major objectives of this international agreement," adding "I expect that European, American, Japanese and Canadian scientists working together will more rapidly identify scientifically sound alternative testing methods."
The agreement establishes enhanced international cooperation and coordination on the scientific validation and evaluation of in vitro toxicity testing methods. According to the commission, strengthened collaboration among the signatories will ensure that alternative methods are reproducible, based on sound science and able to accurately identify health hazards. This, in turn, should facilitate test methods that are widely accepted by regulatory bodies in the EU, US, Japan, Canada and internationally by the OECD.
The commission reports that it is expected, as a result of the agreement, that testing methods that undergo scientific validation will be more credible and more rapidly applied by the testing community. The reinforced collaboration among the signatories will formalize the way they already work together in test method evaluation, validation studies, independent scientific peer review and recommendations from regulatory authorities. The organizations will also work together to develop harmonized recommendations on regulatory issues and develop peer-review processing mechanisms.
For more information, visit the ECVAM Web site.