Humane Society International’s Be Cruelty-Free campaign, which aims to end animal testing for cosmetics worldwide, has had a run of key victories. The European Union, which had been inching toward an animal testing-free marketplace since 2004, finally implemented a complete marketing ban of animal-tested cosmetics in March 2013. This year, we also saw India ban animal testing for domestically-produced cosmetics. Now, our HSI team is striving to implement a complete marketing ban in that country as well.
But the global fight against animal testing has been hampered by the few remaining countries that require animal testing of cosmetics, the largest of which is China. China’s Food and Drug Administration requires that, prior to entering the Chinese market, all new cosmetics formulations must be tested on animals by scientists working for the Chinese government. This means that all cosmetics sold in China, whether previously tested or not, would be subject to re-testing on animals. That’s significant because China has become an economic powerhouse with surging wealth, and it is of course the world’s most populous nation.
Now, for the first time in 23 years, CFDA plans on updating its cosmetics regulations and announced that on June 1, 2014, China plans to remove its mandatory animal testing requirements for cosmetic products manufactured in China. This will take effect first for “ordinary cosmetics” (shampoo, perfume or skincare products). Instead of having to submit new product samples to the government for testing on rabbits, mice and rats, companies will be able to substantiate product safety using existing safety data for raw ingredients, or non-animal tests validated in the European Union.
Our work in China has been an important factor in this change. In June, HSI launched Be Cruelty-Free China, the only campaign on the ground advocating for cosmetics animal testing to cease. And in September, HSI submitted comments to CFDA recommending the use of alternatives in place of animal testing. Earlier this year, the Humane Society family and the Human Toxicology Project consortium awarded an $80,000 grant to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to provide hands-on training in non-animal tests to China’s government regulators and scientists.
While we welcome CFDA’s decision to remove mandatory animal testing for companies based in China, we need to make sure that those regulations are expanded to apply to foreign companies as well. The CFDA has stated that once the new regulation has been established, it may be expanded to include imported products and certain “special use” cosmetics as well. This would be a major step forward, enabling cruelty-free companies worldwide to sell their products in the Chinese market without compromising their ‘no animal testing’ policies. Until then, companies continue to have the option to either allow their cosmetics to be tested on animals or refuse to export to China.
To ensure a cruelty-free world, Be Cruelty-Free will work to see that all countries implement across-the-board testing and sales bans for cosmetics tested on animals.
We have been actively collaborating with international agencies such as The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, which is an international advisory body that consists of all economically-developed countries (currently 34 members), providing guidance for international trade, including chemicals safety policy, and we will continue this work until we have validated alternatives for cosmetics and chemicals testing worldwide.
Please lend your voice to the animals and sign our cruelty-free pledge. The HSUS, HSI, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund want to see a day, in the years ahead, without any animal testing, especially for cosmetics.