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Europe Edges Closer to Banning Animal Testing

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution vote.

PARIS — The European Parliament on Wednesday evening voted in favor of a plan that would end experiments on animals in all industries, including cosmetics.

The parliament adopted a resolution vote that calls on the European Commission to put in place an action plan across the European Union to phase out experimenting on animals. The idea is to use non-animal, human-relevant methods, and to establish a timeline and list of milestones to be reached as animal testing is wound down.

The EU Cosmetics Regulation bans on animal testing — whereby ingredients cannot be used in cosmetics products if they have been tested on animals anywhere in the world — were fully put into force in March 2013. Today, beauty companies largely test their cosmetics on laboratory-grown reconstructed skin.

However, in August 2020, the European Chemicals Agency, or ECHA, announced that some substances must be tested on animals even if they are just destined for use in cosmetics. The ECHA argued that an assessment is needed if there is a risk for workers in factories while the products are made.

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In August, the two cosmetics-related chemicals destined for animal testing were the UV filter homosalate and 2-ethylhexyl salicylate. Meanwhile, animal testing is being requested for hundreds of other ingredients, as well.

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“Nearly 10 million animals are used in invasive experiments in EU laboratories every year, including monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats and mice, a huge number of animals that has remained relatively unchanged in the last decade,” the Humane Society International said in a statement released Thursday.

The Humane Society described the parliament’s vote as a “historic opportunity to take animal suffering out of the equation and shift the focus to modern, cutting-edge, human-relevant research.”

More than 24 groups, also including Eurogroup for Animals, Cruelty Free Europe and PETA, hailing from 24 EU member states, have been campaigning for the resolution to be passed.

In late August, Dove and The Body Shop joined forces for the first time to mount murals across major cities in Europe, including Paris, Berlin and Madrid, to encourage people to sign a European Citizens Initiative, a mechanism for EU citizens to propose new laws. The murals, designed by Nina Valkhoff, feature a rabbit and words reading: “Europe Stand With Us to End Animal Testing” #savecrueltyfreecosmetics,”

In December 2020, Unilever, Aesop, Natura and Tatcha were among the hundreds of beauty companies and animal rights groups to send a letter to the European Commission, Parliament and Council calling for Europe’s animal testing ban to be maintained.

Groups are now pushing for the European Commission to put the subject high on its agenda.

Animal testing came to the fore in the beauty space again recently in a case dating back to March 2018 and involving German fragrance and flavors supplier Symrise. The ECHA ruled Symrise must carry out some toxicity tests on animals for the two sunscreen ingredients.

Symrise appealed, but that appeal was rejected in August. The supplier has subsequently launched two cases to annul that August ruling.

Animal testing is top of mind in Europe. The Humane Society International said opinion polls have shown that 72 percent of EU citizens agree the EU should set binding targets and deadlines to phase out the practice. The European Citizens’ Initiative has already garnered more than 120,000 signatures in less than three weeks.


Dove, The Body Shop Say ‘No’ to Animal Testing in Europe, the U.K.

China Exempts Cosmetics From Animal Testing Starting in May

Beauty Companies Continue Fight Against Animal Testing in Europe