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JRC presentation at the EP Intergroup meeting on the welfare and conservation of animals

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Feb 08, 2013
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A broader role for EURL ECVAM, the EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing

Yesterday 7 February 2013 the European Commission Joint Research Centre participated in an event organised in Strasbourg by the European Parliament Intergroup on the welfare and conservation of animals, focused on the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (whose provisions apply as from 1st January 2013).
Fifteen MEPs were present as well representatives of industry and NGOs, who generated an informed debate.

EURL-ECVAMProfessor Maurice Whelan (JRC-IHCP, Head of Systems Toxicology Unit and EURL ECVAM) made a presentation about the role of the JRC-hosted European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) and its broader mandate foreseen by the directive. Going well beyond the formal validation of methods, EURL ECVAM will now also engage proactively in providing guidance to method developers, facilitating the regulatory acceptance of new methods and their uptake by end-users.
Whelan underlined the importance of an early engagement with regulatory bodies from the Member States, with regulatory agencies and with stakeholders to ensure a collective involvement in the entire validation process and in the formulation of EURL ECVAM Recommendations.
In the context of EURL ECVAM's commitment to international cooperation, Whelan highlighted current engagement with the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), the International Cooperation on Alternative Methods (ICATM), and with a number of US agencies involved in the "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century" (Tox21) initiative.
As part of the effort to inform policy makers about scientific progress relevant to the implementation of European Directives and Regulations that embrace the 3Rs (Reduction, Refinement, Replacement) principles, he drew attention to SEURAT-1 (Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing – Phase 1), a large research cluster co-financed in a public-private partnership by the European Commission (DG RTD through FP7) and Cosmetics Europe (the European trade association for personal care products) with a budget of 50 MEuro. The activities and results are captured in a series of annual "books" entitled "Towards the replacement of in vivo repeated dose systemic toxicity testing", which are written with a broader readership in mind.
Whelan mentioned that EURL ECVAM is currently working on a JRC Report to describe progress since 2011 in the development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods.
He communicated that his Unit/IHCP was recently awarded the first international science prize for alternatives to animal testing, sponsored by the cosmetics company LUSH. The prize was administered by an independent NGO consumer organisation and judged by an independent international scientific committee comprising recognised experts in the field; the prize money will be used to further work in the area.
Whelan concluded his talk by expressing his hope and expectation that the JRC and EURL ECVAM will have a strong role to play within Horizon2020, acting as a hub for translating scientific results into 3R solutions.