U.S. animal advocates have become somewhat accustomed to being embarrassingly surpassed by the animal protection policies across the pond in the European Union (EU). Now it seems we'd better prepare ourselves to be eclipsed by India -- at least when it comes to cosmetics testing on animals.
Recently, Cruelty Free International welcomed the report that India is to become the first country in Asia to ban animal testing for cosmetics and ingredients. This ground breaking move by India is the first step in following the example set by Israel and all the 28 European Union countries which have implemented bans on animal testing as well the sale of products tested on animals anywhere in the world.
At least two members of the Indian Parliament, MP Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, and MP Maneka Gandhi (who is also the founder of India's largest animal welfare organization, People for Animals (Cruelty Free International's partner in India)) have indicated that India will also move toward a sales ban as well. Sale bans are important because they prevent companies from outsourcing testing to third countries and importing the animal-tested cosmetics back into the country for sale.
But while India is making strides to modernize its cosmetics testing polices, many countries in the world, including the United States, still allow antiquated, cruel, and unnecessary animal testing for cosmetics.
There is really no good reason for the U.S. not to catch up on this issue. The information that has historically been gained from animal tests is increasingly being replaced with quicker, cheaper and more reliable non-animal methods. Meanwhile, the validity of using animal tests to determine product safety has been increasingly called into question because transferring the results of animal tests to humans has proven to be problematic and misleading in many cases.
The EU -- which includes the bastions of beauty, Italy and France -- has been phasing out animal testing since 2003, and in 2013 a complete ban on the testing and marketing of animal-tested cosmetics and ingredients went into effect. The European personal care market is the largest in the world and has experienced steady growth despite the current economic climate and despite (or perhaps because of) strict policies designed to ensure consumer safety and prohibit animal testing.
Will the U.S. find the political will to enact a similar ban? Or will the industry be persuaded to change if it wants to participate in a global market that increasingly rejects animal-tested cosmetics?
Only time will tell, but let's keep pushing for the former. If India, Israel, and the whole of the EU can do it, so can we. It's time to consign animal testing for cosmetics to the beauty industries' dark past.
Cruelty Free International is the global campaign to end animal tests for cosmetics and consumer products. Cruelty Free International was founded by the BUAV which led the 20-year campaign to ban the sale of animal tested cosmetics in the European Union.