As China's Policy on Animal Testing Begins to Shift, Let's Honor the Companies That Have Stood by the Animals

Last week, Cruelty Free International welcomed reports that the Chinese Food and Drug Administration has proposed to abolish the requirement for animal testing for cosmetics for domestically manufactured ordinary products (such as shampoo, skincare or perfume) from June 2014. This is a far-reaching development that will undoubtedly spare thousands of animals from cruel tests by enabling companies to market cosmetics in China without testing on animals.

While animal testing for cosmetics is legally allowed in approximately 80% of the world (including the United States), China is the only major market where animal testing is actually required for such products. This requirement has created a dilemma for companies that wanted to enter the Chinese market but were against animal testing or, at least, wanted their consumers to think that they were.

Some cosmetic companies, after years of telling customers that they did not test on animals, quietly allowed animal testing so that they could tap into China's $32 billion beauty market. Others shifted their messaging on the issue to such inane statements as "we only test on animals when we have to." What they really meant is, "we are willing to test on animals when it's financially advantageous to do so." But, I guess, that level of honesty would not get through the public relations department.

In this post, I'm not going to name the companies that made a U-turn on their cruelty free stance when the price became too great. What I am going to do is call positive attention to all the companies that have stood by their cruelty-free commitment by refusing to enter the Chinese market until the animal testing requirement is completely eliminated.

Companies certified under the Leaping Bunny standard have not compromised their ethos. Brands such as Paul Mitchell, The Body Shop, Urban Decay, Bull Dog, Kiss My Face, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day and Method products have held firm and along with the hundreds of other brands are certified under the leaping bunny program. Currently, companies that sell products in China cannot be Leaping Bunny certified due to the Chinese animal testing requirement. I know many of these companies are eagerly awaiting the policy change that will allow them to access the lucrative Chinese market with their cruelty free values intact.

The change that is now on the horizon follows a consultation by the Chinese authorities on the way forward with submissions from Cruelty Free International, as well as Chinese and international industry, and discussions with Cruelty Free International's Director of Policy in Beijing and Shanghai last month and earlier in the year.

It's been a long road but to those who care deeply about the issue it is worth it. We've always been in for the long haul. As the ice begins to thaw in China on the issue of animal testing, let us not forget the companies that have held firm in their cruelty free commitment. Remember, by buying from the hundreds of Leaping Bunny certified brands you are helping to save animals from a life of suffering in a laboratory and you are sending a strong message that consumers don't want cosmetics to be tested on animals - anywhere in the world.