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South Korea approves prioritisation of alternative tests for K-REACH

An amendment to K-REACH aimed at making the reduction of vertebrate animal testing central to the legislation, has passed South Korea’s National Assembly. The amendment, put forward last year, will be incorporated into the revised version of K-REACH when it enters into force 1 January 2019, along with the country’s new biocides law (K-BPR).

The bill, put forward last year, was in part a response to the increased animal testing that has accompanied K-REACH. Some South Korean companies have conducted their own tests on animals rather than purchase existing test results, for example from EU data.

For the process of producing risk and hazard information for chemicals, the amendments place responsibility on:

  • the state – to establish and implement a policy for development and use of alternative tests to minimise the use of vertebrates (Article 4); and
  • business entities – to prioritise use of non vertebrate animal tests (Article 5).

The amendment also sets out a new Article 16-2, which says vertebrate animal testing should be minimised using alternative tests when registering, and when carrying out risk assessments and hazard assessments for chemicals. Testing must not be repeated for the same chemicals except when prescribed by Presidential decree due to risk assessment for humans, animals, or the environment.

The amendments reflect global trends in progression for legislation to back alternative tests. China also recently consulted on the acceptance of two OECD approved non-animal tests. In February the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (Envi) proposed drafting an international convention against the testing of animals for cosmetics with a view to a global ban by 2023.