By Arwa Lodi
Let’s face it: with most chemical ingredients on the market already having been proven to be safe, there really is no excuse for animal testing anymore. For any new ingredients that may be added to cosmetics, L’Oréal has developed a lab program called EPISKIN, which can determine the effects of how human skin would react to various substances, and ToxCast is another high tech method that is able to produce the same results for scientists as animal toxicity tests.
So efficient are these innovations that the European Union has now implemented a full ban on cosmetic safety testing on animals. What this means is that any European cosmetics created from 2013 onwards will not have been tested on animals. The EU has also extended this cruelty-free policy to foreign companies: if they wish to sell in Europe, they will have to ensure that their cosmetics are also not animal-tested. If they do so, they will earn themselves a little leaping bunny logo, which informs consumers that the product they are buying is cruelty free.
One possible consequence of this may be fewer American brands being sold in Europe. In the USA, cosmetic safety is controlled mainly by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Safe Cosmetics Act (SCA). The rules laid out by these regulators on animal testing are rather vague, but with this new EU legislation, it’s possible that American and other foreign brands may be further encouraged to stop testing on animals if they wish to sell abroad.
Unless they focus on the Asian market, that is.
Cosmetic sales in China are booming. This is terrible news for animals and animal lovers, because although other testing methods, such as those used by L’Oreal, are faster and just as accurate as animal tests, the rather backwards Chinese government requires that every cosmetic product sold in the country undergo several tests on animals before it can be sold, even if it has already been tested and proven safe in other countries. What this means is that even ethical EU companies that do not test on animals will have to do so with their products if they want to sell them to Chinese customers. Outraged by this twist in legislation, the animal-rights group PETA is now lobbying to change this reliance on animal testing, but unfortunately, China is still making it very difficult for ethical companies to bring their tried-and-true cruelty-free products to China, unless they conform to regulations there and pay to have their products animal tested.
So, it is all but impossible for many ethical cosmetic manufacturers, such as the Body Shop, Stella McCartney makeup and Aveda, to sell their products in China under its current policy, and what is worse, Chinese consumers seem to be completely oblivious to the pain and distress cosmetic testing can cause animals. At least consumers in Europe can rest assured that their beauty routine requires no ugliness in the animal world.
If you would like to help PETA end animal testing in China, please click here: https://secure.peta.org/site/SPageNavigator/Vivisection_2col
Images: Wikicommons, Aveda