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The present campaign: towards the adoption of safe methods for the evaluation of chemical toxicity

At the begining of 2001, the European Commission seems to be boosting an old project dating back some years: evaluation of the toxicity of tens of thousands of chemicals currently used and to which we are therefore potentially exposed. The EC creates a web site, to which, in 2003, all contributors can send a file, and launches the REACH ("Regulation, Evaluation and Authorization of CHemicals") project. Claude Reiss and his collaborators draw up the Scientific Toxicology Programme and send it to the EC.

Our aim is now to convince the authorities of its relevance... To this end, we have conducted a practical demonstration: several chemicals have been tested by a German laboratory according to our methods. We are particularly grateful to the association One Voice, which contributed with part of the necessary funds, and to the laboratory, which dramatically lowered its fees.

Milestones

February 13th, 2008: Further to a suggestion of Antidote Europe, two MEPs; Jens Holm and Neil Parish, organize à conference at the European Parliament on Progress without pain - Alternatives to animal experiments. Prestigious speakers include Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, Prof Dr Wolfgang Dekant (Institute of Toxicology, Wurzburg University, Germany), Dr Johan Rönnelid (associate professor, Unit of Clinical Immunology, Uppsala University, Sweden), Professor Paul Furlong (Director of Clinical Neurophysiology, Aston University, UK), Jens Holm and Neil Parish, Sonja van Tichelen (Director of Eurogroup for Animals) and, of course, Claude Reiss, president of Antidote Europe.

February 12th, 2008: We are received by Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission.

January 29th, 2008: We present a complaint to the European Mediator.

November 24th, 2007: We attend the ECOPA (European Consensus Platform on 3R-Alternatives [to animal tests]) meeting, in Brussels, although we support only one "R" : Replacement!

October 26th, 2007: We attend the workshop Toxicogenomics and replacement of animal tests within REACH, in Brussels.

October 15th to 18th, 2007: We attend the first International Forum for an Evidence-based Toxicology, organised in Como, Italy, by the European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM).

October 12th and 16th, 2007: We take part in the regional discussions of the "Grenelle de l'environnement" in Perpignan and Drancy. Group 3 of this public consultation of environment stakeholders, entitled "Buil an environment that respects health" explicitly mentions toxicogenomics.

October 8th, 2007: Fabrizia Pratesi, coordinator of one of our partner associations, handles documents on toxicogenomics and scientific toxicology to Mr Franco Frattini, vice-president of the European Commission.

June 25th, 2007: The test results obtained by Antidote Europe, based on the toxicogenomic evaluation of 22 chemical substances are registered on an international database : Antidote Europe's expertised is recognised.

May 22nd, 2007: We hand documents about our organisation and our actions to Ms Valérie Pécresse, newly nominated minister of Research.

January 18th, 2007: We are received by Philippe Mahoux, President of the Belgium Senate.

December 18th, 2006: REACH's final version proposes to encourage toxicogenomics.

December 14th, 2006: Claude Reiss gives a lecture in the Italian Parliament, during an event organized by Equivita, which contributed to the adoption, by the Italian Goverment, of a programme aiming to "progressively abolish animal experiments".

November 29th, 2006: The Social Affairs Committee of the Belgium Senate tables a resolution asking the Federal Government to: make a feasibility study on the creation of a toxicogenomics center in Belgium and to make the same request to the European Council of Ministers, in relation to the REACH project.

November 25th, 2006: We attend the ECOPA (European Consensus Platform on 3R-Alternatives [to animal tests]) meeting, in Brussels, although we support only one "R" : Replacement!

October 10th, 2006: the Environment Committee of the European Parliament accepts toxicogenomics as a possible method for REACH. An amendment is reintroduced with a view to the second reading.

October 4th, 2006: Muriel Arnal, President of One Voice, and Claude Reiss are received at the French Research Ministry.

October 3rd, 2006: Further to the publication of her book Animaux cobayes et victimes humaines (Animal Guinea Pigs and Human Victims), Helen Sarraseca is heard by Geneviève Gaillard, President of the Study Group on Animal Welfare of the French Parliament.

July 10th, 2006: We are at the European Commission to hand in a letter signed by 140 organizations from 11 countries, representing more than 1 million European citizens, asking for the application of Directive 86/609/EEC, which states that no animal tests must be conducted if there is another method for obtaining the same result.

July 3rd, 2006: We meet with Senator Anne-Marie Payet, author of a report on prescription drugs. We suggest improvements in the assessment of toxic effets of drugs. Senator Payet puts a question to the Health minister on our behalf.

April 12th, 2006: We are in the Paris offices of the European Parliament, where Marie-Anne Isler-Béguin (European Green member) has organised a round table on REACH, with the participation of many health, consumer, environment or animal protection organisations. We insist on the need for not accepting animal-based toxicology because the results are not valid for humans. (This meeting follows others with the same group on March 3rd, April 8th, May 20th, June 28th, September 29th 2005, February 1st and March 15th, 2006).

March 30th, 2006: Claude Reiss attends a conference on REACH organised by the Melun Chambre de commerce et d'industrie. We realise that small industries are upset by the future burden of REACH.

February 28th, 2006: Thanks to the intervention of the Ministry of Industry, we are received by chemical firm Arkema, which we inform about the potential of toxicogenomics and the advance taken by United States and Japanese firms in this field. This is the first of a series of contacts with representatives of the chemical industry.

February 6th, 2006: We are received at ECVAM (European Center for Validation of Alternative Methods), together with our industrial partners BioTeSys, Scienion and Vigilent Technologies. We engage in discussions about how to validate toxicogenomics.

January 4th, 2006: We are received at the Ministry of Industry, which is interested by toxicogenomics and suggests facilitating contacts with possible partners.

Since November 2005: We inform health officials on the results of our toxicogenomics tests of 28 chemical substances (our correspondence is in French).

November 17th, 2005: The European Parliament accepts toxicogenomics as a possible method for REACH!

November 14th, 2005: Together with One Voice, we hand a letter to all members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

November 8th, 2005: Press conference at the European Parliament in Brussels to present the results of our analysis of 28 chemical substances. We are invited by Monica Frassoni, a Green member, and give a talk with Fabrizia Pratesi, coordinator of the Italian association Equivita.

October 19th, 2005: Further to his lecture on October 4th, Claude Reiss speaks again in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, at a hearing on animal experiments.

October 4th, 2005: At the invitation of Equivita, Claude Reiss gives a lecture in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome, together with Italian parliamentarians signatories of a bill aiming at banning animal experiments.

From August 27th to September 2nd, 2005: Claude Reiss attends the toxicogenomics congress organised by the National Institute of Environment and Health Sciences (NIEHS) and a Japanese Government organisation. Japan and the United States are well in advance with the implementation of toxicogenomics, but they use large DNA chips rather than the small, easy to produce and cheaper DNA chips we recommend, an original approach by Antidote Europe.

June 15th, 2005: We are received at the European Parliament in Brussels by Mr. Guido Sacconi, in charge of the REACH report to its members. He pays great attention to our presentation of the Scientific Toxicology Programme and talks with us for more than an hour. We provided him with documents to be submitted to his scientific advisers.

June 15th, 2005: We are received at the European Parliament in Brussels, by Mr. Axel Singhofen, Head of Health and Evironment for the Green members of the European Parliament.

May 24th, 2005: We are received at the Ministry of Ecology where our Scientific Toxicology Programme arouses interest.

May 11th, 2005: We are received by deputy Muriel Marland-Militello, who expresses great concern for the problems raised by animal experiments.

April 20th, 2002: We are received by deputy Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, President on the Health and Environment Working Group in the French National Assembly. She is very interested in our work and arranges an appointment for us at the Ministry of Ecology.

March and April 2005: We write to all members of the European Parliament on the Health & Environment and Industry & Research Committees, to the President of the European Commission and to the President of the European Parliament to ask them to take into account our Scientific Toxicology Programme. Several organizations in different European countries sign our letter.

February 28th, 2005: We are at the European Parliament in Brussels to present the Scientific Toxicology Programme at the Alternatives to animal testing round table, before a public composed of researchers, industry and associations concerned -and of course members of the European Parliament.

December 20th, 2004: We write to the French Ministers of Health, Ecology and Industry to inform them of the existence of the Scientific Toxicology Programme.

Summer 2004: It takes Hasan and Simone Parvez and Claude Reiss many weeks to draw up the lists of chemicals to be tested (pesticides, drugs, etc.), of genes to be included in the DNA chips and of cell types to cultivate.

May 2004: After disappointing visits of French firms, Hasan Parvez and Claude Reiss decide to work with a German laboratory. Its senior staff are former researchers with the Max Planck Institute. The sum collected by One Voice, however, is not enough to test a sufficient number of substances to make the demonstration significant. The laboratory takes a major commercial and militant initiative by offering to cover part of the expenditure.

April 2004: Muriel Arnal, President of the French association One Voice, offers to collect funds to proceed with a practical demonstration by analysing several chemicals with the Scientific Toxicology Programme.

March 13th, 2004: Claude Reiss gives a talk at the Green Party conference in Brighton, England, at the invitation of Caroline Lucas, re-elected to the European Parliament.

December 17th, 2003: Claude Reiss has a meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg with Paul Lannoye, Belgian member of the European Parliament, and Peter Liese, a German member.

October 4th, 2003: Claude Reiss has a meeting in London with several ecologist members of the European Parliament, among whom Caroline Lucas, and representatives of several associations (Animal Aid, BUAV, EMP, RSPCA).

July 11th, 2003: Claude Reiss has a meeting in Brussels with several members of the European Parliament, including Paul Lannoye.

May 5th, 2003: Claude Reiss has a meeting in Brussels with John Bowis, member of the European Parliament, who suggests several possible contacts for the REACH project.