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Could China Have the Answer to Ending Animal Testing for Cosmetics Worldwide?

Could China Have the Answer to Ending Animal Testing for Cosmetics Worldwide?

In a move that has come as a surprise to many, China’s Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has announced plans to end its mandatory requirements for animal testing of cosmetics products that are manufactured domestically at the beginning of next summer.

The Humane Society International (HSI) estimates that as many as 300,000 rabbits, mice and other animals may be used in chemical testing for cosmetics every year in China alone. Under the new plan, Chinese companies that are making “non-special use cosmetics,” like shampoo or perfume, will be allowed to forego animal tests and use existing data for raw ingredients or non-animal tests that have been validated by the European Union, which animal advocates hope will spare thousands of lives from unnecessary suffering.

“This news from China marks a major milestone in our campaign and could constitute a significant watershed moment in our global effort to end cosmetics animal testing worldwide. HSI’s team has prioritized efforts to transform the future for animals in laboratories in China. This development is only the beginning of what we hope to be a paradigm shift towards 21st-century science without animals,” said Troy Seidle, HSI’s Be Cruelty-Free director.

The CFDA also stated that the new system may be expanded to include imported products as well, which HSI points out would remove trade barriers and allow cruelty-free companies to sell their products in China.

China’s animal testing requirements haven’t just been a horrible curse for animals in labs, but have also been a problem for companies who want to expand there, but are unwilling to compromise their cruelty-free values. It has also been a problem for others that have claimed to be cruelty-free, but have misled consumers by conceding to China’s testing requirements to sell there.

For consumers who are choosing products because they are cruelty-free, it’s kind of a big deal as some companies, including Urban Decay, learned the hard way after infuriating its loyal customers with an announcement to hit China’s market. Other companies, including Avon, Estee Lauder and Mary Kay have found themselves in the hot seat over their false cruelty-free claims, which resulted in a class action lawsuit.

The European Union, Israel and India have banned animal testing for cosmetics, which has also proven to be problematic for some companies. The requirements to test on animals in some markets and bans on testing in others leave companies with a dilemma about where to sell. It’s also forced unnecessarily and leads to duplicate testing with animals even though their products are already safely being sold in other markets. Fortunately, the trend seems to be moving away from using animals for safety testing.

‘This breakthrough will mean that the last global regulatory body that required animal testing is ready to accept alternatives for the majority of cosmetics. While we are awaiting details and final confirmation of the draft, potentially this could transform the situation in China for ethical cosmetic companies who have up to now refused to sell in China in order to remain in the Leaping Bunny accreditation scheme, which bars cosmetics whose ingredients are tested on animals. We also welcome the role of the European Commission, who have told us they have been offering technical support and advice to China in this area,” said Michelle Thew, Cruelty Free International’s chief executive.

The Leaping Bunny program requires companies that carry its signature leaping bunny logo to pledge not to test on animals at any stage of development and remain open to independent audits in order to stay certified. The program is managed by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) in the U.S. and Canada, while the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection manages it in the UK and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments manages it in Europe. Even products that are simply labeled “not tested on animals” or “cruelty-free” may have been tested by other companies, at the ingredient level or at certain stages of development.

The CFDA’s plan is still under review and has a few caveats, but it’s still a huge step towards ending animal testing for cosmetics on a global level. Meanwhile, animal advocacy groups including HSI have vowed to continue to work with the Chinese government towards a complete ban.

For more info on cruelty-free products, visit gocrueltyfree.org.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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119 comments

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10:38PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

China. I can,t believe anything these sadistic and cruel Chinese say. They don,t know how to show compassion or remorse for the billions of helpless and innocent animals they kill with unimaginable and horrific cruelty. I pray the day will come soon when the Chinese start protecting innocent and helpless animals from the atrocities they commit and stopping the unimaginable cruelties they commit every second, minute, hour 24/7 365-366 days of the year. Please stop the atrocities committed against billions of helpless and innocent animals in China? If only they would bring in Laws to Protect All animals from the atrocities and unimaginable suffer and cruelty Chinese commit against such beautiful and intelligent animals.

6:42AM PST on Dec 1, 2013

If a company wants to "move" to China, they're automatically suspect. Don't buy ANYTHING made in China, China hasn't abandoned their vicious, dirty behavior by a long shot.

7:56AM PST on Nov 25, 2013

In Holland we say; I believe it, when I see it

5:48PM PST on Nov 24, 2013

animal testing should be stopped anyway.

11:38AM PST on Nov 18, 2013

It's all propaganda!! China? Just because so many people are complaining and banning or threatening to ban their product, so they just spread their words. I don't believe them till I see it happening myself. Those people have no education on compassion and no space in their heart to care for animals. If only chinese starts leading to protect animals or no shark fins, no horns or skin/leather allow in its own country, it's enough to save millions and millions of innocent animal lives and the rest of the world may follow?! I can only dream this day will come.

8:36PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Max & Miya, I would say China IS a vile country. Widespread animal abuse is not always government-mandated.

6:26PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

@Max H. China is not a vile country...neither is usa. but in both cases, their governments are vile- or at least take vile actions against their own citizens, not to mention animals.

3:19PM PST on Nov 16, 2013

TYFS

5:44PM PST on Nov 15, 2013

A baby step. A good baby step. In China???? Just as in so many countries (including the U.S.) I was under the impression that China could no longer find any type of animal that they couldn't abuse or kill. I hope it's a start!

10:02AM PST on Nov 15, 2013

Well, they aren't banning animal testing, only making some of their cosmetic products not require mandatory animal testing. I hope Chinese companies will reduce their animal testing with this new law.

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