Animal advocates have been given an epic reason to cheer this week with the introduction of landmark legislation that could end the suffering of millions of animals who are unnecessarily tortured and killed to test the safety of cosmetics in the U.S.
The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 4148), which was introduced by Rep. Jim Moran, will make it illegal to conduct or commission animal testing for cosmetics after a one year phase in, which will be followed by a ban on the interstate sale of products and ingredients that were made using animal testing after three years.
“The U.S. can and should phase out the use of animals in cosmetic safety testing. Not only are animal-based tests fundamentally inhumane, they also rely on outmoded science that can fail to accurately predict safety for humans,” said Rep. Moran in a statement. “This legislation would encourage the use of testing alternatives that are more effective and cheaper to conduct, helping the American cosmetic industry remain the dominant, and humane, leader in the global cosmetics market.”
How Things Currently Stand
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 to test their products and ingredients on animals. 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.
According to the Environmental Working Group, “89 percent of all ingredients in cosmetics have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution.”
The number of products labeled “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” might make it seem like we’re making progress, but those labels can be misleading because “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.
Because the Animal Welfare Act does not require that all laboratory animal use in the U.S. be reported, we may never know exactly how many animals died because of a new product, but numbers are estimated to be in the millions. Not only are we not required to test on animals, but conflicting legislation could mean millions more would be senselessly experimented on and killed.
The U.S. Is Falling Behind Global Progress
While hundreds of ethical companies have pledged not to test on animals, a number of other countries have already taken steps to end animal testing for cosmetics proving that it’s an unethical and unnecessary practice that belongs in the past.
The European Union’s ban on the testing and marketing of animal-tested cosmetics and ingredients, which was enacted in 2013, was a major milestone for animals in labs and has set the stage for other countries to follow. Israel and Norway followed suit and were joined by India last year. According to Cruelty Free International, Korea, Brazil and ASEAN are also taking steps to end cosmetics testing on animals. In June, China will end its mandatory animal testing requirement for imported cosmetics.
With global markets closing their doors to products that have been tested on animals, a move by the U.S. would not only be an ethically sound one, but will also allow companies here to continue to compete.
With the availability of data on thousands of ingredients that have already been proven safe, advances in technology and growing consumer demand for cruelty-free products, there’s no reason for the U.S. to lag behind on this issue. Now our lawmakers need to hear from us.
To find animal-friendly products already on the market, visit gocrueltyfree.org.
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