SEOUL, South Korea—A petition to rally support for passage of a bill proposed to advance animal-free approaches in science and product testing has been delivered to the National Assembly by Humane Society International/Korea.
In a ceremony held on Jan. 31, HSI/Korea officially delivered the petition with more than 66,000 signatures to members of the National Assembly, with a request for swift enactment of the PAAM Act—the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods—which was first introduced in December 2020 by Rep. Nam. A second bill on the topic was also proposed in December 2022 by Rep. Han.
Reps. Hong-keun Park, Jeoung-ae Han, In-soon Nam and eight other lawmakers with the National Assembly Animal Welfare Forum, as well as key personnel from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Science and ICT attended the ceremony.
HSI/Korea has been gathering signatures since August 2021 in a campaign co-hosted by Lush Korea that utilized major social media outlets and a screening of HSI’s “Save Ralph,” an award winning film about the story of a rabbit called Ralph who is used in a cosmetics testing facility. “Save Ralph” has won more than 40 awards including the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Good award. Borami Seo, HSI/Korea’s director of government affairs, said: “In commemorating the Year of the Rabbit, we have delivered the voice of HSI/Korea’s ‘spokes-bunny’ Ralph and the people calling for support in the passage of this law to replace animal testing.”
Korean government statistics reveal that 4.8 million animals were used for testing in 2021, yet according to a public opinion survey by Realmeter on behalf of HSI/Korea, 81.6% of Koreans agree on the need for legislative support to develop and disseminate replacements for animal testing.
Across the world, the drive to replace animal testing and build new evaluation models and systems is seeing the acceleration of human analog models, organ-on-a-chip, organoid, 3D-printing-used tissue reconstruction, computer modeling and big data analysis.
Although Korea has made its own contributions in respect to this global trend, progress has been slow due to the lack of related laws and cooperative working structures among ministries. In particular, the lack of a central agency to direct the initiative to support non-animal methods has prevented systematic and efficient implementation of related policies. HSI/Korea believes that the central government needs to play a strong and active role in verifying, certifying and promoting new non-animal testing methods.
Rep. Hong-keun Park of the Democratic Party of Korea said: “As a co-representative of the Animal Welfare Forum, I feel responsible for the continued practice of cruel and unnecessary use of animal testing. We expect that the petition with signatures from more than 60,000 people will be able to call for attention to the passage of the bill. I will provide any support for the passage of the bill and cross-ministry cooperation on the matter.”
HSI/Korea’s Borami Seo said “This is a crucial time to discuss the two proposed bills that will promote and vitalize the scientific research and testing using new emerging, human-based approaches. Passage of these bills will be the stepping stone to further the replacement of animals in testing.”
Director of Korea Center for Validation of Alternative Animal Methods at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said “We are aware of the importance of the bill that replace animal testing and agree with its initiatives. As a government, we will to our best to provide support for its passage”
A joint public-private discussion forum co-organized by HSI/Korea will be held at the National Assembly on Feb. 8 to rally support for passage of the bill following the delivery of the petition.