Animal advocates are celebrating another victory for animals in labs following the announcement that as of this week, China will no longer require animal testing for some types of cosmetics products manufactured in the country.
As of Monday, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) stopped requiring tests for ordinary cosmetics, including make-up, skin, hair and nail care products and fragrances that are produced in the country and will instead allow manufacturers to choose available alternatives to conduct risk assessments.
“This is an important first step for China in moving away from cruel and unreliable animal testing for cosmetics. Our Be Cruelty-Free campaign has worked hard to achieve this milestone, but we know much work remains before we eliminate all cosmetics animal testing in China, so we are not resting on our laurels. In making this rule change, China is acknowledging the global trend towards cruelty-free cosmetics, and that’s hugely significant,” Peter Li, PhD, Humane Society International’s China policy adviser, said in a statement.
HSI estimates that as many as 300,000 rabbits, guinea-pigs, mice and other animals are used to test cosmetics in the country annually and that if every eligible company that can chooses to take advantage of this change in policy an estimated 10,000 animals could be spared from cruel and unnecessary tests every year.
China’s mandatory testing requirement hasn’t just caused unnecessary suffering for animals, but has shut companies that refuse to test on animals out of the market. It has also caused problems for companies that claim they don’t test on animals, but still sell in China, including Avon, Mary Kay and Estée Lauder, which has also led to confusion and anger for consumers who want to buy cruelty-free products and were led to believe they were.
While the new rule doesn’t apply to imported cosmetics or other types of personal care items, such as hair dye, deodorant and sun screen, animal advocates are hoping that this change represents a growing shift away from using animals and that it will be the first of more victories to come on the road to a cruelty-free world.
This weekend, HSI and more than 20 Chinese animal advocacy organizations welcomed the news in a letter to the CFDA and are now urging the agency to go further to stop animal testing in China.
While we celebrate China’s regulatory change, we also hope very much that China will go further and next apply the removal of mandatory animal testing to foreign-imported cosmetics too, as well as replace post-market animal testing with in vitro-based safety tests. In doing so, China would establish itself as a major cruelty-free cosmetics producer and market, with cruelty-free brands from around the world bringing their beauty products to Chinese consumers, and Chinese cruelty-free products expanding to international markets. It would also see China well placed to take a leading role in the manufacture and development of high-tech non-animal research tools.
Meanwhile, animal advocates are continuing to push for more countries to ban the practice. While the European Union and a few other countries, including Israel and India, have bans in place many others still allow it, including the U.S.
Now there’s hope that the U.S. could join others that have stopped the practice. In March, the Humane Cosmetics Act was introduced, which if passed would make it illegal to conduct or commission animal testing for cosmetics after a phase in period. With the availability of data on thousands of ingredients we already know are safe and the growing demand for cruelty-free products there’s no reason not to stop the practice here.
Please help the U.S. catch up to other countries that already have, or are working towards, banning animal testing cosmetics by signing and sharing the petition urging your rep to support and co-sponsor this historic piece of legislation.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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