Updated draft of rules to minimise tests on animals circulated

New Delhi, Sep 29 : With support from the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, the Chemicals and Fertilisers Ministry's Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals has circulated its updated draft of Chemicals (Management and Safety) Rules, 20xx, among stakeholders, that includes provisions to minimise testing on animals.

In India, animals are killed every year while testing the safety of chemicals vis-a-vis human health and environment.

In these tests, animals may be forced to consume food or water laced with a chemical, have the chemical pumped into their stomachs, or be forced to inhale the chemical before getting killed.

As the only animal protection group to participate in the stakeholder consultation meeting on May 11 to finalise the draft Rules, PETA India made many recommendations for using reliable and relevant non-animal testing approaches that protect human health and environment, which have since been incorporated in the draft.

To avoid repeat testing, the rules require that existing scientific evidence be considered prior to conducting any new tests and data submitted for the registration of substances in foreign jurisdictions will also be accepted by the Chemical Regulatory Division.

Furthermore, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) non-animal methods must be used to derive the required data, wherever possible, with tests on vertebrates undertaken only as a last resort, as proposed by PETA India.

The person registering a substance will also be required to propose a testing strategy for approval by the division prior to any new test.

The draft rules, which will supersede two existing sets of rules -- The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989; and The Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 -- describe a multifaceted programme to identify and manage risks associated with the use of imported chemicals or those manufactured in India.

"We appreciate the government's step towards modernising the regulatory framework for chemicals, and there are ample opportunities to further minimise tests on animals," said PETA India Research Associate Dr Ankita Pandey.

"The new Rules, once implemented with PETA India's recommendations, will save animals from getting poisoned and killed in unreliable tests.

PETA India will continue to work with the Ministry to ensure that the legislations on chemicals are most scientifically advanced in the world and that non-animal testing approaches are used wherever possible."

As proposed by PETA India, further opportunities to minimise tests on animals include implementation of 'one-substance, one-registration' rule that would mandate data-sharing between multiple persons registering the same chemical substance to ensure no duplication of animal tests, if required for registration.

Other steps involve establishment of a non-animal methods unit in addition to many other units under the Rules to provide scientific support to the division by providing regular updates on availability of OECD's valid non-animal methods, and review of technical dossiers and testing proposals.



Source: IANS