Today, March 11, marks the culmination of 23 years of campaigning to end the suffering for animals who were used in tests for cosmetics sold in the European Union because people who cared refused to give up. Starting today, anyone selling cosmetic products in the EU will not be allowed to test finished products or their ingredients on animals anywhere in the world, whether or not an alternative to animal testing is available.
Israel followed suit with an announcement that as of January 1, it would no longer allow the import and marketing of cosmetics, toiletries or detergents that were tested on animals, which was followed by the Drug Controller General of India calling for the fast-track deletion of two final animal tests from the country’s cosmetics safety standard last month.
But until the United States and other countries do the same, thousands of animals will continue to suffer and die for the sake of human vanity. According to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), 80 percent of the world still uses animals for cosmetic testing. China officially mandates animal testing for cosmetics and the U.S. remains a major market that allows it.
Because the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does not require that all laboratory animal use in the U.S. be reported (it exempts mice, rats, and birds), we may never know exactly how many animals died because of a new product, but numbers are estimated to be in the millions.
Even though animal testing is not required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Product Safety Commission in the U.S., and despite the fact that alternatives to animal testing exist, many companies continue with the practice. In fact, the FDA leaves it up to companies to substantiate the safety of their own products and recalls are left entirely up to manufacturers. Here it doesn’t seem as if either animals or consumers are entirely safe.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “89 percent of all ingredients in cosmetics have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution.”
The EWG. maintains a database of almost 80,000 products ranked by their level of hazard and according to the group, the cosmetics industry has reportedly assessed less than one-fifth of them. Last year, the FDA found 400 lipsticks on the market that tested positive for lead, but the industry continues to lobby against any measures that would stop it from self-regulating.
We’re torturing animals and getting exposed to thousands of questionable chemicals anyway.
Hopefully, the EU ban will spur further action by other countries, including the U.S., to get a cruelty-free makeover and give up animal testing for cosmetics entirely. If the EU, India and Israel can do it, there’s no reason other countries can’t develop and accept alternatives to animal testing.
Help End the Suffering by Spending Compassionately
We can have an impact on this industry with the way we spend our money, but thanks to the fact that there is no official cruelty-free labeling scheme, product labels can often be misleading.
Products that are labeled “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” might seem like good choices, but that isn’t always the case, since “cruelty-free” isn’t technically, or legally, defined. Products that are simply labeled as “not tested on animals” or “cruelty-free” may have been tested by other companies, in other countries, at the ingredient level or at certain stages of development making it confusing and frustrating for those of us who are trying to make compassionate choices and support ethical companies.
The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC), which established an international certification program that requires companies and their ingredient suppliers to pledge not to test on animals at any stage of development and stay open to independent audits, manages the Leaping Bunny program in the U.S. and Canada and offers us the closest assurance we’ll get that products and their ingredients were not tested on animals. These products are easily identifiable by the signature leaping bunny logo.
To find cosmetics, personal care and household products that are really cruelty-free and available internationally, visit gocrueltyfree.org.
Thanks to the over 18,000 Care2 members who signed this petition against animal testing in Europe.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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