LONDON — Dove and The Body Shop are joining for the first time to voice their dismay over potential changes to longstanding animal protection policies in the European Union and the U.K.
On Tuesday, the two beauty giants will say they are teaming with organizations such as PETA, Cruelty Free Europe and Eurogroup for Animals to urge millions to support cruelty-free cosmetics in the EU and the U.K. and the current ban on animal testing in the region.
Dove and The Body Shop will be mounting 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 shape policy by calling on the European Commission to propose new laws.
The street murals have been designed by Nina Valkhoff, an activist from Rotterdam, and are meant to raise awareness and to create “emotional connectivity” with the cause, according to Dove.
As the U.K. is no longer part of the EU, the campaigners are asking citizens to sign Cruelty Free International’s petition to phase out animal experiments, and to use their social channels to recruit their friends and followers to do the same.
The campaigners are calling on both the EU and U.K. governments to protect the ban of animal testing in cosmetics.
The issue has been bubbling for a while: In August 2020, the European Chemicals Agency, or ECHA, announced that some substances must be tested on animals even if they are destined solely for use in cosmetics.
The ECHA argues an assessment is needed if there is risk for workers in factories where the products are made.
Last August, two chemicals were destined for animal testing: the UV filter homosalate, and 2-ethylhexyl salicylate. The agency has requested animal testing for hundreds of other ingredients.
The ECHA believes that where some information is missing, data from animal testing should be used to fill the gaps. Campaigners fear this will mean new animal tests on ingredients that have been used safely in cosmetics for years.
The ECHA’s latest requests run counter to current EU Cosmetics Regulation bans on animal testing, whereby ingredients cannot be used in cosmetic products if they have been tested on animals anywhere in the world.
Those bans were put into force in March 2013, with companies often deciding to test their cosmetics on laboratory-grown reconstructed skin instead. At the same time, the European Parliament has been calling for a global ban on all animal testing for cosmetics by 2023.
“Our ambition is to ensure only non-animal methods are used to assess the safety of cosmetics and their ingredients for consumers, workers and the environment,” said Dove global communications and sustainability senior director, Firdaous El Honsali in an interview over email.
“By promoting the transition to animal-free research and testing in the EU, this European Citizens’ Initiative has the potential to spare millions of animals each year from unnecessary tests, and improve protection of human health and the environment by ensuring safety decisions are based on the latest scientific knowledge and our modern safety toolbox.”
El Honsali argued that “it’s extremely rare that safety cannot be demonstrated using non-animal methods. Dove has enacted a policy prohibiting any animal tests on its products anywhere in the world.”
She pointed out that Unilever has more than 40 years of experience using non-animal approaches for product safety testing, and collaborates with 70 partners across the world. “It openly shares its expertise and approaches and is offering to work with an even broader range of stakeholders.”
El Honsali added that the murals are meant to be “a wakeup call. What better way to grab attention than by expressing our cause through art, using these cities as our canvas? Our mission is to get people across Europe to stop and stare, to feel empowered to be a part of the initiative to make actionable change to end animal testing for the long term.”
Chris Davis, the Body Shop’s global director of sustainability, activism and corporate communications, said, “We don’t believe that animal testing is necessary to assure cosmetic safety, and we are looking forward to other brands joining us and taking a stand — as well as asking EU citizens to take urgent action by signing the European Citizen’s Initiative. We won’t stop fighting until we see the ban upheld,” Davis said.