Cosmetics industry criticised as
EU set to admit delay in animal testing ban
Critics accuse pharmaceuticals industry of stalling on tests.
rule could involve extra 54m animals in lab experiments.
counter A Europe-wide ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals anywhere
in the world may now be delayed for up to four years. The
final phase of European law designed to eradicate testing on animals of
chemicals used in the cosmetics industry is set to be delayed for as long
as four years because it is thought
that alternative ways of testing the safety of ingredients' will not be
ready in time. Cosmetics and testing experts predict the European commission
will announce shortly that it is unable to introduce the third phase of
the European cosmetics directive, as planned in 2013. This directive would
have banned the sale in Europe of any cosmetics tested on animals anywhere
in the world. Neil Parish MP, chair of the associate parliamentary group
for animal welfare, said "sufficient" replacement safety tests
would not be available until 2017.
Parish accuses the cosmetics industry of deliberately delaying the development
of alternative methods. "For too long the cosmetics industry has dragged
its feet when it comes to developing alternatives to animal testing, and
here they are again trying to stall legislation to improve the welfare of
animals." Parish is demanding an end to "needless animal testing
purely for the commercial gain of industry". Michael Balls, a professor
and former head of the commission's European Centre for the Validation of
Alternative Methods, also criticises the handling of the issue. "The
whole thing is a way of looking for reasons for a delay. The EC is trying
to make a delay look like a scientific issue."
Lecrenier, head of the cosmetics and medical devices unit of the commission's
Directorate General for Health & Consumers, has already informed members
of the European parliament's environment committee that it is "unlikely
enough scientific progress" will have been made on alternatives by
2013. A commission assessment of alternative methods is due to report in
early 2011, and a final decision will follow soon afterwards. A clause letting
the commission delay the ban will then be invoked.
two biggest cosmetics bodies – the European Cosmetics Association
(Colipa), and the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients – say
the full ban will probably be delayed because, according to Colipa, "top
scientists confirm that although phenomenal progress has been made, a full
set of alternative tests to cover all areas of consumer safety will almost
certainly not be available by 2013".
are 10,000 cosmetic ingredients on the commission's permitted list, but
new ingredients are still being tested on animals outside Europe and then
used within the EU. It is also thought that some new ingredients are still
being tested on animals in Europe for use in household products or food
and then subsequently used in cosmetic products.
delay to the European cosmetics directive comes just as another complex
set of EU legislation, which mandates the re-testing of tens of thousands
of chemicals, begins to be enforced. The EU regulation Reach (registration,
evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) was the commission's
response to safety questions raised over many chemicals used regularly in
household and industry products. The commission estimates that a minimum
of 8m extra animals will be used in these tests, although some observers
put that figure as high as 54m.
now question how Reach can possibly be compatible with a Europe-wide ban
on animal testing of cosmetic products and ingredients. Balls said: "I
think the general public has the impression that the cosmetics directive
banned the testing of all ingredients [the first phase came in 2004]. So
most people believe that when you buy a cosmetic it won't have any chemicals
in it that have been tested on animals. But I just don't think that's true,
and I think it is incredibly misleading."
professor said he hoped for a "chorus of objections" if chemicals
tested under Reach were then used in cosmetics labelled, "This product
does not contain chemicals which have been tested on animals". Cosmetic
industry representatives say Reach will not affect the bans already in place
on ingredient and product testing.
the US mining company Rio Tinto confirmed to the Guardian that sodium borate,
an ingredient used in products made by Boots, Avon and some cruelty-free
firms including Burt's Bees, and Lush, had recently been subjected to animal
tests in compliance with Reach.
Tinto said: "We avoid animal testing whenever possible. But when we're
required by regulation to do animal testing, we do it to ensure human and
environmental safety." Mark Constantine, managing director of Lush,
said: "The confirmation that … sodium borate has been tested
on animals by the borate SIEF [the Substance Information Exchange Forum,
which collates data for registration of chemicals from European suppliers]
confirms our worst fears about Reach. We're investigating the situation,
and have removed it from one product and are working on the others."
says it does not buy products from suppliers who carry out animal testing
on their own products. Burt's Bees adheres to the "Leaping Bunny"
accreditation scheme of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics.
Flowers, director-general of the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumery Association,
argues, like other cosmetics bodies, that ingredients tested on animals
under Reach will be eligible for use in cosmetics because Reach and the
cosmetics directive are separate pieces of legislation. But the courts could
take a different view. In 2005, in a case brought against the cosmetics
directive, the French attorney general ruled: "It seems clear that
the ban on animal tests applies equally to tests performed for … complying
with other legislation, in so far as substances that have been the subject
of such tests may not be used as, or in, cosmetic products."
said: "When people expect, or try, to bridge the two [pieces of legislation]
to produce a consistent course of action, the lack of joined-up thinking
out there in the wide world starts to show up."
van der Zee