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03/12/2013 12:13 PM     print story email story  

EU Bans Animal-Tested Cosmetics

SustainableBusiness.com News

"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace."
--Albert Schweitzer

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
--Ghandi

Effective immediately, the European Union is banning sales of all cosmetic and personal care products that contain ingredients tested on animals.

Alternatives to animal-testing have been widely available for decades - there is absolutely no need to test products like mascara, shampoo or toothpaste on animals such as rabbits.

This decision "is in line with what many European citizens believe firmly: that the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing," states the European Commission.

Since 2004, the EU has banned sales of finished cosmetic products that were tested on animals - this new law also bans ingredients tested on animals.

Products already on the shelves can be sold and one important loophole remains. If a cosmetic ingredient is a "pharmaceutical" that's been tested on animals, that's OK. 

As for cosmetic products made outside the EU (using animal tests), they can still be sold in the EU if manufacturers can prove their safety without using data based on animal tests. 

This full ban was settled on 10 years ago, but was delayed because of industry pressure, giving them time to develop alternatives to animal tests.

But the industry still isn't satisfied. 

Trade association Cosmetics Europe, which represents companies like L'Oreal and Johnson & Johnson, says the ban "acts as a brake on innovation" and "threatens the industry's competitiveness."  In 2010, industry revenues in Europe were Euro 71 billion, according to the European Commission.

In the US, it was only after public pressure that Johnson & Johnson agreed to remove potentially harmful and carcinogenic chemicals from its personal care products. 

The 2004 ban has had far-reaching effects, ushering in an era of science that doesn't depend on animals, and resulting in a dramatic drop of animal testing on the part of US manufacturers that export to Europe.

The European Commission wants other countries to follow its lead and and is offering to share the costs in developing and validating alternative testing methods.

"The Commission will make this an integral part of the Union's trade agenda and international cooperation," they say. That's pretty timely since the US and EU are currently negotiating a free trade agreement.

On January 1, Israel passed the same ban and India and South Korea could follow.

In the US, Whole Foods Market has a rating system for cleaning products which excludes any product tested on animals to be sold in their stores. It's also the safest place in the US to buy non-toxic cosmetics.



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