EU Bans All Products, Ingredients Tested On Animals
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Score another victory for animals. Roughly six weeks after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US retired some 400 chimpanzees from being used in lab testing, the European Union (EU) enacted a similar ban. As of immediately, no more new products containing ingredients tested on animals will be allowed on store shelves, regardless of where in the world the tests derived.
EU´s commissioner for health and consumer policy, Tonio Borg, said in a statement that Europe wants to set an example. This ban “gives an important signal on the value that Europe attaches to animal welfare.”
The EU first got involved in anti-animal testing in 2004, when it banned testing of finished cosmetic products. Five years later it moved to ban animal-tested ingredients in all products. But after heavy lobbying from major cosmetics makers, the EU extended the deadline for some tests, mainly for allergy and cancer for which there were no substitutes. But Monday´s ruling eliminates those exemptions, and the EU is calling on its trade partners throughout the world to follow suit.
French cosmetics giant L´Oreal, even before the ban went into effect, announced it would comply with and respect the ban and “no longer sell in Europe any finished product with an ingredient that was tested on animals” after Monday.
But other large cosmetics companies throughout the EU, which contribute to a $91-billion (US) annual cosmetic industry, criticized the EU for putting the ban in place before alternatives existed for some of the most critical and complex tests.
Colin Mackay, a spokesman for the trade association Cosmetics Europe, said that one of the EU´s goals may be to pressure the rest of the world to follow suit, but “science doesn´t match that political timetable.”
The most likely outcome would be “that consumers in Europe won´t have access to new products because we can´t ensure that some ingredients will be safe without access to suitable and adequate testing,” Mr. Mackay told the New York Times in an interview.
But the ban drew support from animal rights activists who said the EU “listened to the people.”
The anti-vivisection group BUAV and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) said they had been campaigning for animal rights in regards to this issue for more than 20 years. And celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney and Sienna Miller have joined their cause.
Humane Society International cheered the EU ban, calling it a significant step in ending animal cruelty in the lab. The group said the EU bloc has now become “the world’s largest cruelty-free cosmetics market” and said it hopes the rest of the world will soon follow in their footsteps.
But while animal rights groups are congratulating the EU for making this move, the BUAV said many other countries around the world are still testing animals for cosmetics and other products and is pushing for a global ban.
While the move effectively means that the industry´s rabbits, mice, rats and guinea pigs will now go free, it is unlikely consumers will notice an immediate difference, because products containing ingredients tested on animals before the ban went into effect can remain on store shelves.
And despite the ban, some point to a loophole that exists in the measure.
Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, a Socialist lawmaker from Germany who helped put the 2004 ban in place, said companies could still use ingredients from animal tests as long as the tests were carried out for pharmaceutical or chemical products.
Roth-Behrendt said she wasn´t sure if the loophole was kept in place due to industry pressure, but added such a move was “wrong.”
The ban could complicate trade relations with some parts of the world, such as China and the US, where no laws currently exist on animal testing bans. As for China, the government demands animal testing as a condition before cosmetics can be marketed. In the US, while animal testing is not required to show cosmetics are safe, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does prohibit the sale of unsafe cosmetics.
Borg noted that he would “engage with [other] countries to follow our European approach.” He said in his statement that he promises to continue to help finance the development of alternatives, so that the EU sets “an example of responsible innovation in cosmetics without any compromise on consumer safety.”
But with an industry as large as the cosmetics market, generating $38.3 billion in revenue in the US alone, it will be a hard-fought battle to try to instate such bans. However, many US beauty makers have already decreased reliance on animal testing to adhere to overseas markets.
US-based cosmetics giant Estee Lauder maintained that it does not test products or ingredients on animals and doesn´t “ask others to test on our behalf, except where require by law.”
It also said it was increasing efforts to gain global acceptance for safe products that do not rely on animal testing.
The beauty company said on its website that such efforts include “programs in China and other markets where in vitro testing is not accepted in order to educate scientists on the scientifically validated safety record of these methods.”
“This [ban] had an impact on the U.S. cosmetic industry,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice-president of laboratory investigation for the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA. “It also ushered in a whole new era of non-animal science” in Europe.
Cosmetics Europe, however, said the ban will threaten the industry´s competitiveness and could harm an industry that has no testing alternatives to ensure safety of its products.
Bertil Heerink, head of Cosmetics Europe, said “by implementing the ban at this time, the European Union is jeopardizing the industry’s ability to innovate,” putting the EU at odds with its own goal of fostering a knowledge and science-driven economy.
Sabine Lecrenier, an EU health official, said in a statement to HuffPost that new cosmetic products sold in the EU could still come from animal-tested ingredients. However, such products must come from manufacturers outside the EU and must contain documentation proving that the data gathered was done in a safe manner without harm to animals, she said.