Eight years ago on 11th March 2013, cosmetics tests on animals and the sale of cosmetics relying on such tests were supposed to be banned in the EU – yet loopholes mean cosmetics ingredients continue to be tested on animals. The Irish Anti-Vivisection Society (IAVS) has joined forces with other European animal protection organisations to urge EU authorities to call looming off new animal tests and to assure the safety of cosmetics and their ingredients using only non-animal methods.
Intending to end the archaic reliance on new animal tests, the EU Cosmetics Regulation promoted the development of superior, non-animal test methods and set the gold standard for similar initiatives worldwide. However, it has since become clear that the regulation is not being upheld in the way promised to EU citizens and that animals are still suffering and dying in unnecessary new cosmetics ingredients tests.
Cosmetics ingredients are being tested on animals in the EU under the industrial chemicals legislation known as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. Recent decisions made by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) confirm that it considers tests on animals even for ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics to be permissible under REACH. This approach seriously undermines the Cosmetics Regulation.
The call for the suspension of tests follows an open letter sent to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in December, signed by 463 cosmetics brands and animal protection organisations, including the IAVS. In the letter, the brands confirmed their ability to ensure safety for consumers and for the workers involved in producing cosmetics by using non-animal methods, and stressed that many of the ingredients in question already have a long history of safe use. The animal protection groups emphasised the strong support of European citizens for the cosmetics testing bans, urging authorities to uphold them as intended by legislators at the time of introduction and in line with the European Parliament’s support for a global end to cosmetics testing on animals.
The immediate suspension of animal test requirements for ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics would enable the industry to sit with regulators and decision-makers to demonstrate that rather than subject thousands of animals to more suffering for cosmetics, they can assure safety using a toolbox of modern, animal-free approaches.
The opportunity for stakeholders to come together in this way is made even more important as the EU’s new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability risks additional animal tests for ingredients used in cosmetics and other everyday products.