Korean National Assembly Forum highlights alternative testing methods

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Alternative animal testing methods in Korea

Related tags South korea

Humane Society International is holding an Assembly Forum in Korea to emphasise the importance of “supporting advancing science without suffering”.

Animal protection advocates, Humane Society International (HSI), is organising an Assembly Forum at the Korean National Assembly building in Seoul, South Korea on 24th November 2016.

Okju Song, Mihyuk Kwon and Jeonae Han, all members of the National Assembly, will host the forum and lead discussions on how Korea can use more effective and scientific approaches towards adopting alternative testings on animals for chemical management.

Professor Jaehak Park at Seoul University, who is also an advisor for the Korea Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments and National Assembly Animal Welfare Forum will officially moderate the forum.

Animal testing

Although the natural and organic sectors within the cosmetics industry are gaining momentum - Lush Korea has sponsored the forum - a large number of manufacturers still use chemicals in products and are currently tested during the R&D phase.

As laws in the APAC region require various safety assessments, animal testing is still predominantly used in the cosmetics and beauty sectors.

In Korea, the Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (K-REACH), which came into effect on 1st January 2015, increases chemical management requirements for manufacturers, importers and exporters.

As a result, HSI is concerned that this legislative change will increase the use of animals in cosmetics testing.  

However, HSI reports that current animal testing methods, which dates back to the 1940s, are no longer suitable for modern cosmetics production.

As numerous studies have also demonstrated the limitations of using animal testing as a means to test the chemical safety of human products, HSI is advocating for the use of modern science.

It is collaborating with governmental agencies from around the world to overcome these problems by encouraging the use of alternative and contemporary scientific methods such as employing  donated human cells, tissues and organs or tissue-engineering and modern biotechnology.

Korean chemical management

The Korean chemical management landscape is challenging, as Korean governmental bodies do not cooperate, HSI states.

This results in the failure or delay of non-animal testing methods entering the market and also wastes unnecessary research in safety assessment that could be exploring other areas.

On the 24th November 2016, the Forum will outline how the Korean government can support HSI’s mission by improving effective communication to ensure working international guidelines are adhered to.

This communication and transparency should be ongoing and consistent between the country’s chemical management authorities: the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s Korea Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods, the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development Administration.

“Though [we are’] trying to adopt more alternative methods since 2016, it is not active,”​ emphasised the Minister, at the Assembly’s inspection hearing in September 2016.

“With the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Rural Development Administration, we will try to expand our policy efforts to support alternative approaches.”

Forum focus

The Assembly will hear several speeches at the forum on how Korea can optimise its chemical management processes.

Troy Seidle, HSI, will focus on the EU and US sectors to deliver a speech on the range of best practices in these regions and the opportunities open to Korea.

As K-REACH is now in effect, Hennicke Kamp from German chemical company BASF, will talk about the “Use of alternative methods for K-REACH: best practices & lessons learned from EU-REACH”.

The forum will also explore the role that the country’s alternative testing centre will have on the efforts to move away from animal testing. Kyungmin Lee from Ehwa Woman’s University will discuss the  “Validation management system and status of GLP in Korea, and Sangbum Koh, Alternative Testing Centre”. 

Officials from the Ministry of Environment, National Institute of Environment Research, Korea Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods, Rural Development Administration and National Institute of Agricultural Sciences will also be present on the discussion panel.

“It is ever more important that Korean government work together towards harmonising testing regulations with international recommendations and actively supporting ​21st century modern science for both animals and humans,”​ said Troy Seidle, Director of Research and Toxicology, HSI.

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