Change for animals will come about with an evolution in consciousness about animals and a recognition that we must respect their interests. But change will also come about with innovation—as we discard old ways that involved the exploitation of animals in favor of activities that do not involve animals at all.
An article in yesterday’s New York Times highlights the efforts of major cosmetic companies to meet a directive by the European Union to phase out animal testing of products and ingredients by March 2009. U.S. companies that want to market cosmetics in Europe will also need to abide by the ban.
Thousands of animals—rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs—are used annually in the European Union for cosmetics testing. A number of cosmetics companies are investing heavily in developing alternative methods. L’Oréal, which owns the Body Shop, a global cosmetics company that lobbied hard for the EU regulations against animal testing, has devoted more than $800 million in the last 20 years to alternatives development. And Procter & Gamble, maker of the Cover Girl line, has spent almost $225 million. The EU government is also funding research and development, with the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods playing a leading role.
I asked Dr. Martin Stephens, our vice president for Animal Research Issues, to comment. Here’s what he had to say:
In addition to the EU Cosmetics Directive, there are other policy and scientific developments driving change. The EU’s REACH legislation calls for industry to assemble toxicity information on tens of thousands of existing chemicals that lack full safety information—a task that would be too time-consuming and expensive if industry relied exclusively on animal-based methods. And here in the United States, the National Research Council recently issued a vision for the future of toxicity testing that calls for a move away from animal testing and towards more modern and efficient non-animal methods.
The HSUS family of organizations, including Humane Society International and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, is playing an active role in ushering in a new era of non-animal testing. A partial list of our involvement: serving on the NRC panel that issued the new vision, lobbying for animal-friendly amendments to the REACH legislation and for transatlantic harmonization in validated alternative methods, and preparing to launch a website devoted exclusively to non-animal methods of testing. We’ve also lobbied for federal appropriations to fund alternatives development and to require the use of alternatives in California and New Jersey.
The challenge now is for disparate stakeholders in industry, government, academia and nongovernmental organizations to better coordinate their efforts in developing alternative methods, and for the United States to play a greater role in these international efforts. The HSUS will continue to do its part to hasten the day when no animal is used in safety testing.