Will California Continue to be a National Leader in the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Debate?

With SJR 22, California can continue to be a leader in ensuring that modern humane alternative tests are at the heart of ensuring US consumers' safety.
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On Monday, the California Senate approved Senator Marty Block's joint resolution, SJR 22, the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Resolution, with a bipartisan vote of 31-0.

The resolution, sponsored by Cruelty Free International, asks the California legislature to send a message to the US Congress and the President to adopt uniform restrictions on animal testing of cosmetics. Specifically it urges the federal government to mandate alternative methods to animal testing, whenever scientifically satisfactory methods are available. The measure also calls on the United States Congress to enact legislation that would establish reasonable deadlines for the prohibition of the testing and marketing of cosmetic products which have been tested on animals.

Prohibition of animal testing for cosmetics is an area where the United States has fallen behind other countries including our largest trading partner, The European Union, which has completely banned the importation and sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Norway, India, and Israel have also banned animal testing for cosmetics; Australia, ASEAN, Brazil and Korea, are also making strides toward ending cosmetics testing on animals.

In the absence of action at the federal level, the California legislature has long been a leader on this issue.

Twice the California legislature voted to ban the use of the Draize eye and skin irritancy tests. These infamous tests, developed in the United States 70 years ago involve dripping chemicals into the eyes of rabbits or rubbing chemicals onto the backs of shaved guinea pigs. The bills, AB 2461 and AB 110, were introduced in 1989 and 1990 respectively by legislator Jack O' Connell (D-Santa Barbara). While each of these bills were adopted by the California legislature they were each vetoed by Governor George Deukmejian.

Then in 2000, Senator O'Connell took a slightly different approach and introduced SB 2082, which instead of banning specific tests, prohibited manufacturers and contract testing facilities from using animal test methods when an appropriate scientifically validated non-animal test was available. This bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Gray Davis.

New Jersey and New York followed California's lead in 2007 and 2008 respectively with similar "mandated alternative" laws. So far, these are the only states to take such action.

Despite the fact that modern alternatives to animal testing are increasingly less expensive, faster, and more accurate at predicting human reactions than the antiquated animal tests they replace, there is no national law in place to limit animal testing for cosmetics in the United States. However, earlier this year the Humane Cosmetics Act H.R. 4148 was introduced in the US Congress by Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) calling for a phase out of the testing and sale of animal-tested cosmetics. The introduction of this ground-breaking bill is a reflection of the growing global concern and interest in this issue.

Likewise California's Cruelty Free Cosmetics resolution reflects the interests of US consumers who, multiple polls show, support ending cosmetic testing on animals.

The resolution has already gained celebrity support from actress and Cruelty Free International supporter Mayim Bialik, who said,

"For over a decade California has been a leader in supporting the use of modern non-animal tests to ensure cosmetics safety. It's time that the rest of the nation catch up with California as well as other countries on this issue. I am proud to stand with Senator Block in calling for cruelty free testing."

With SJR 22, California can continue to be a leader in ensuring that modern humane alternative tests are at the heart of ensuring US consumers' safety.

SJR now heads to the California Assembly. Compassionate Californians can help by asking their state Assembly member to support and co-author the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Resolution. Contact information can be found at http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

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