March 11th 2013

Ten years after it was overwhelmingly approved by the European Parliament and over twenty years since campaigning began, March 11 2013 heralds the beginning of a Europe wide ban on the use of animals in cosmetic testing.
In addition to this, Euro MPs, who voted overwhelmingly to take animal-tested cosmetics off the market throughout Europe, have also voted for an outright sales ban meaning that any new cosmetics tested on animals cannot be sold in the EU either.
Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies told a European Parliament debate:
 
“We need to send out a signal that animals should not have to suffer cruelty for no better reason than the wish to develop even more products, which are essentially frivolous and designed to flatter our vanity.”

From budget brands at pocket money prices to the high end luxury labels all companies producing personal care products will be subject to the new regulations. Procter and Gamble, L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, who currently test their products on animals will have to find alternative methods in order to be able to continue selling their products in the European market.
 
The sales ban, which applies to all toiletries and beauty products, will apply five years after the date that the legislation has been implemented, giving companies time to find alternative testing methods. This effectively outlaws animal tested products by the end of this decade.
 
Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy confirmed in an open letter to animal testing campaigners:
“I believe that the ban should enter into force in March 2013 as Parliament and Council have already decided. I am therefore not planning to propose a postponement or derogation to the ban.”

Britain has upheld a ban on the use of animals in cosmetics testing since 1998, but fears of clashes with the World Trade Organisation has mean EU-wide measures have been put off until now. Europe’s move mirrors that of Israel, whose own animal testing ban came into force on January 1st 2013.
Sadly this decision does not prevent companies from testing products and ingredients on animals and selling them outside Europe. This means that it is possible that some companies may produce two lines of the same product; one for sale in the EU and one for sale outside the EU.
Is it truly viable, financially or otherwise to produce two distinct product ranges in order to satisfy both markets?
 
It may actually prove a necessity for some, particularly companies who intend to do business in China where (conversely) animal testing may be requested by law. It was for this reason that I decided to no longer support MAC Cosmetics.
 
My hope is that the major cosmetics companies cease political lobbying in favour of animal testing in Europe (which is soon to become a lost cause), and instead redirect their efforts to China, asking for mandatory animal testing to be lifted in that territory, at which point the sale of products not tested on animals would become economically viable.
 
What I find most absurd is that the use of animals in cosmetic testing is still taking place in the 21st Century. These new restrictions on companies will finally force them to find humane alternatives and in twenty years time, when these have been implemented and have bedded in, it will be difficult to imagine the industry working in any other way.
 
So why has it taken until now for the EU to come to this decision?
Featured images: Not Tested on Animals, European Union Flag, PETA Cruelty Free Bunny
 
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