During a 4-day visit to China, Borg took part in several meetings focusing among others, on product safety, medical devices, cross-border health threats and cooperation in the area of animal diseases control and anti-microbial resistance.
One of the key issues discussed concerned the European ban on animal testing for cosmetics, which applies fully since 11 March 2013; and apply equally to products imported into the EU from China.
With this ban, Borg believes that Europe positions itself as the strictest cosmetic market in the world in favour of animal welfare and has paved the way for alternative methods to be developed and eventually replace animal testing in the field of cosmetics.
“I have encouraged the Chinese authorities to avoid unnecessary testing for cosmetics,” he said on his return.
It is the health commissioner’s belief that there are many areas where animal testing can be replaced; for example, where the proof of safety can be based on ingredients.
“I see first signs of acceptance of alternative methods in China which I welcome very much. Acceptance of validated alternative methods, starting with those that are OECD accepted, is clearly key to limit animal testing for cosmetics internationally,” he continued.
“I invited the Chinese authorities to work in closer cooperation with the EU Joint Research Centre in the area of alternative methods. I have also welcomed China's participation as an observer at the next meeting of the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation, aiming for acceptance of validated alternative methods at international level.”
Overall, China is now the EU's 2nd trading partner behind the United States and the EU is China's biggest trading partner, meaning it is in mutual interests to preserve and nurture the commercial bonds, in full compliance with respective legislations.
Commissioner Borg’s comments have been welcomed by Humane Society International’s Be Cruelty-Free Campaign, and director Troy Seidle has called it ‘hugely significant.’
“China, unlike other markets, requires animal testing for cosmetics products already safely on sale in the EU and elsewhere, so the Commissioner's statement is particularly welcome,” he said.
“HSI's work in China, including our 'Be Cruelty-Free' campaign, has received a massive boost from the Commissioner's decision to add animal testing to the topics raised.”