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EU ban on animal testing comes into force today

By Guy Montague-Jones , 11-Mar-2009
Last updated on 11-Mar-2009 at 13:56 GMT

Campaigners are today celebrating the enforcement of the EU ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic ingredients but reservations remain about the availability of alternatives.

The seventh amendment of the Cosmetics Directive means that today (March 11) testing cosmetic ingredients on animals becomes illegal for skin irritancy, phototoxicity, corrosivity, percutaneous absorption, genotoxicity, ocular irritancy and acute toxicity.

Animal rights campaigners in the UK joined MPs and beauty firms such as Neal’s Yard, The Body Shop and Essentially Yours to celebrate the news outside the Houses of Parliament.

Their celebrations mask concern within the industry about the lack of alternatives.

The legislation leaves beauty companies with no get-out clause; testing ingredients on animals is now banned irrespective of whether there is an alternative method available.

Validated alternatives exist for only four of the seven categories where animal testing is no longer permitted. This leaves companies with few options when it comes to genotoxicity, ocular irritancy and acute toxicity tests.

According to a spokesperson for SkinEthic (a provider of reconstructed human epidermis models that have been validated for skin irritancy and corrosivity), this is due, in part at least, to the industry dragging its feet.

“These changes to the regulation were made public 11 years ago, and now the industry finds it hasn’t got all of the right tools to comply,” he said.

The ban on animal testing of cosmetic ingredients will be completed in 2013 when another eight tests join the list (carcinogenicity, photoallergy, cutaneous allergy, toxicokinetics, reprotoxicity, teratogenesis, toxicity – sub chronic and chronic, and photomutagenesis).

With animal testing now almost completely eradicated from cosmetics in the EU, animal rights group BUAV says it will now turn its attention to the global beauty industry.

“We will now continue our global campaign to seek an end to the appalling suffering inflicted on animals in the name of beauty worldwide,” said Michele Thaw, chief executive of BUAV, which launched the Humane Cosmetics Standard in 1998

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