Major Firms Scrap Animal Testing


Daily Yomiuri

Major firms scrap animal testing / Ito En, Shiseido take lead in consideration of EU, U.S. markets.

OSAKA--Ito En, Ltd., a major beverage maker based in Tokyo, abolished animal testing at the end of April, while cosmetics giant Shiseido Co. aims to do so within the company by March next year and abolish the practice completely, including through outsourcing, by March 2013, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.The companies decided to scrap the tests, eyeing European and U.S. markets, where animal rights movements are strong. In Europe, sales of cosmetics developed via animal testing are regulated. Since it is the first time major Japanese companies have decided to abolish animal tests, the move likely will affect other corporations. According to Ito En, the company decided to abolish animal testing through talks with animal rights organizations in the United States, the company's major export market, and also because it learned that two major U.S. beverage makers have abolished the practice. "It's an inevitable step as we take our business global," a staff member said. Ito En had experimented with animals, mainly rats, to verify the effectiveness of catechin, which is a substance in green tea. From now on, however, the company will adopt alternative testing methods such as using human cells. Yet animal tests are required to obtain government authorization of foods for specified health use. The company said it would outsource animal tests in case the data derived from such procedures become necessary in the future.Shiseido has not performed animal testing in its cosmetics research and development since the latter half of the 1980s and has limited such tests to the application of cosmetic materials. This spring, the company decided on a policy to completely abandon the practice, in accordance with European Union regulations. The EU has banned animal testing of cosmetics and their materials since March last year. The EU also prohibited sales of cosmetics that used animal experimentation conducted outside the EU, except for five kinds of testing, such as repeated dose toxicity studies. The EU is calling for a total ban on animal experiments by March 2013.

Shiseido's European business accounts for 11 percent of the company's total sales. Although Shiseido has not revealed the actual conditions of its experiments, a company official said, "We'd like to deal with the situation positively, as a socially responsible company, and plan to offer opportunities to exchange opinions with experts and animal rights organizations."In Japan, product safety data based on animal testing are required in principle to receive government approval for using new, quasi-drug elements. Concerning the problem, the Shiseido official said, "We'll shift our production policy from developing new materials [that traditionally require animal testing] to utilizing conventional materials." There are many small and medium-size cosmetics companies that do not conduct animal tests. However, animal tests are performed within major companies, including irritability tests on the eyes and skin of rabbits and other creatures. Fusako Nogami, director of the civic association All Life in a Viable Environment (ALIVE), said she hoped corporations would make products without sacrificing animals to the greatest extent possible. "It's a big problem compared with foreign countries, because Japan has no effective law to protect animals from animal experiments and no system to monitor them.

Therefore, we can't grasp the actual conditions," she said. Hajime Kojima, chief of the new experiment evaluation office at the National Institute of Health Sciences, said unnecessary animal testing should be avoided. "Although alternative testing methods still have their limits, we've promoted the development of new technologies, including utilizing iPS [human stem] cells," he said. "More support from the government is necessary so Japan's chemical industry won't lose the ability to compete in international markets."


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