ccc To Mr José Manuel Barroso re Directive 86/609/EEC | Antidote Europe

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Wed 8 Feb 2006



Mr José Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission

Dear Sir,

We are still awaiting your answer to the letter we wrote you in the first quarter of 2006 asking you, in accordance with Directive 86/609/EEC, to replace toxicological tests conducted on animals by scientific evaluations of the toxic risks for humans that have proved their worth, such as toxicogenomics. We remind you that the letter was signed by 140 associations representing more than 1,200,000 citizens of 12 countries working in various fields (health, environment, animal defence, etc.). After several requests to your private office for an appointment, a delegation from these associations (including several scientists) was able, on 10th July last, to hand this letter to a member of the private office of the Environment Commissioner, who has informed us that the letter was transmitted to your private office on 3rd August last. During our meeting, she stated that we would receive a written answer. We are disagreeably surprised at the silence of the European Commission of which you are President in respect of a petition by more than a million citizens concerning the main concern of each of them: safeguarding his or her health.

We are particularly astonished at this silence, since the REACH Regulation, finally adopted on 18th December last, stipulates that: “The Commission, Member States, industry and other stakeholders should continue to contribute to the promotion of alternative test methods on an international and national level including computer supported methodologies, in vitro methodologies, such as appropriate, those based on toxicogenomics, and other relevant methodologies.” Although there is abundant proof of the relevance of this method in terms of cost, speed and, above all, validity of the results for humans, in particular for the identification of cancerigenic, neurotoxic and reprotoxic substances (the United States set up a National Center for Toxicogenomics in 2003), at the end of 2006 the European Commission launched a five-year “carcinogenomic” research programme, although this discipline is currently applied and went beyond its research stage years ago. Not only is the Commission thereby wasting 10.6 millions euros of taxpayers’ money, is it also going to wait for the end of the study to decide to implement relevant toxicological methods in REACH?

If, as it is indicated in REACH, “The Community’s strategy to promote alternative test methods is a priority and the Commission should ensure that (…) this remains a priority topic.”, it is for you to prove that these are not mere words. Present technical possibilities enable archaic tests on animals to be replaced by truly scientific, reliable methods that are moreover faster and cheaper.

More than a million Europeans die each year from cancer, while others suffer from neurological illnesses, sterility, etc. More and more studies show the implication of synthetic chemical substances in these pathologies and deaths. Delaying the toxicological evaluation of the 100,000 existing substances means further victims every day.

We remain at your disposition for a meeting in your offices.

Yours faithfully,

Encl. : Copy of the letter handed to the European Commission on 10th July 2006