asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what representations he has received about his Department's specification of the Draize procedure in the testing of pesticides and herbicides; and what response he has given;(2) what efforts his Department has made to find an alternative to the Draize procedure in the testing of pesticides and herbicides.
The most recent representation received by my Department came from the Lord Dowding fund for humane research. The reply explained that while in vitro methods for the assessment of severe eye irritation (as opposed to the in vivo Draize test) may be of value as preliminary screening methods for use with compounds or products for which the eye irritation potential is unknown, their ability to detect the relatively low level of eye irritation which may be caused by many pesticides has yet to be adequately demonstrated. I am advised that some in vivo testing is necessary but our pesticides data requirements are currently being revised in order to reduce animal testing to the minimum.Products containing components already known to be irritating to the eye will not be required to be tested undiluted; active ingredients and formulations which are severe skin irritants, or which are strongly acidic or alkaline, may be assumed to be eye irritants and thus will not have to be tested in concentrated form; there is also a strong recommendation not to test in the eye materials known to be corrosive to skin. Furthermore, where substances of unknown irritancy need to be tested, application should be made initially to one animal only, before proceeding to a further two animals, provided it is not shown to be strongly irritant in the first animal.