With so much senseless animal cruelty in the world it can often seem like compassionate minded individuals have little hope of changing the status quo. However, history has shown that public opinion and consumer power have long been driving forces in influencing corporate behavior and legislative initiatives. It just takes time. The cruelty free cosmetics movement is no exception.
Over the last 25 years, the public demand for cruelty free cosmetics has grown in tandem with forward thinking cosmetic companies that have sworn off animal testing. In tandem with consumer and industry demand, innovative non-animal testing strategies that yield efficient and accurate safety data have proliferated. Changes in the law haven't been far behind.
In 2000, California became the first state in the US to require that available non-animal safety tests be used before resorting to animal tests. New Jersey and New York passed the same mandate in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Meanwhile in Europe, public policy on the issue was advancing on a larger scale. In 2004, animal testing for finished cosmetic products was prohibited and a phase out of animal testing for cosmetic ingredients began with an end date of 2009. Then on March 11, 2013, the European Union prohibited the sale of new cosmetics that have been tested on animals. This historic change simply would not have happened without consistent and persistent public support and consumer action.
Following the success in Europe, Cruelty Free International has been working to put the issue of animal testing for cosmetics on the political agenda in nations around the world. With the world's largest cosmetics market now closed to animal testing, and public support greater than ever, governments around the world have become increasingly proactive with new laws and proposals aimed and phasing out animal testing for cosmetics. It can be a dizzying feat to keep up with all the action! With this in mind, I've provided a summary of the most significant strides in the past three years.
India: Citing ethical, consumer safety, and economic benefits, India prohibited animal testing for cosmetics in 2013 followed by a prohibition on the sale of animal tested cosmetics in 2014. This change came about thanks in large part to our partners People For Animals and their founder Maneka Gandhi.
Brazil: After a whirlwind nine-month campaign by the Cruelty Free International Brazil representative Dr. Frank Alarcon, a bill was passed by the Lower House in 2014 that would immediately end testing on finished products and would phase in a requirement for the use of alternative tests for ingredients as alternatives are accepted by Brazilian authorities or within five years whichever comes first. The bill is now is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
United States: In March 2014, Cruelty Free International welcomed the introduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act hosting the first congressional briefing on the bill. Then in June, 2015 the Humane Cosmetics Act returned with new bi-partisan leadership. The bill would phase out animal testing for cosmetics in the United States within one year of enactment and would prohibit the sale of cosmetics tested on animals within three years of enactment. U.S. citzens can take action to support this bill.
Vietnam: In May 2014, the Vietnamese Government ended the use of the cruel Draize rabbit eye test for cosmetics. This crucial breakthrough was negotiated by Cruelty Free International Director of Policy, Dr Nick Palmer, at the conclusion of the successful alternatives training program funded by Cruelty Free International at the Institute of Drug Quality Control in Vietnam.
China: China is the only country that still requires animal tests for imports, but progress is being made. Cruelty Free International established the China Task Force bringing together leading cosmetics companies, the cosmetics industry, and regulators to press for cruelty-free cosmetics in the country. As first step, in June 2014, China ended the animal-testing requirement for most cosmetics if they are manufactured in the country. Eventual lifting of the animal testing requirement for direct imports is expected.
New Zealand: While animal testing for cosmetics had already been effectively ruled out via an existing regulatory requirement, in 2015 the prohibition on the use of animals to test finished cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients was solidified in law.
Argentina: In June 2015, Cruelty Free International provided guidance on a new bill introduced in Argentina that would end the animal testing of cosmetics ingredients and prohibit the sale of new animal tested cosmetics in Argentina after a two year phase in. Violation of the law would result in hefty fines which would be ear-marked for animal protection and welfare programs in Argentina.
Russia: In August 2015, Cruelty Free International applauded the publication of a new cross-party Bill in the Russian parliament that would phase out all animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients by 2020.
South Korea: Two years ago Cruelty Free International began working with Representative Jeong-Lim Moon, Assembly Members and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) on a bill to phase out animal testing for cosmetics. Earlier this week, Cruelty Free International welcomed the passing of a Bill by the Korea National Assembly's Health and Welfare Committee to end the use of animals to test cosmetics in Korea and will be made law in the coming weeks.
And that's just the highlights!
I can't wait to see what further changes 2016 will bring. A few things are clear; modern non-animal safety tests are the future of cosmetics safety testing and cosmetics companies must increasingly consider consumers and governments in their product testing decisions.
What is also clear is that compassionate values and consumer actions do matter and do make a difference. Carry on!