It's no secret that the U.S. has a less than stellar track record of passing animal protection legislation at the Federal level especially when compared to other countries.
It's also no secret that bipartisan support is needed for any legislation to have hope of passage in the U.S. Congress whether by regular order (via the committee process and traditional rules) or otherwise.
So what does this mean for our efforts to end cosmetics testing on animals in the United States?
I'm optimistic and here's why: Ending cosmetics testing on animals is a bipartisan issue.
First, let's get one misconception out of the way. It is oft-assumed that Republicans don't care about animal suffering. This is simply not true. In my years of work in the animal protection movement, I've worked on a number of bills on various animal issues that had bipartisan support. In recent years, I've met with multiple legislative officers from both sides of the aisle to discuss animal testing for cosmetics, and I can tell you that no one I've talked with, regardless of political party, thinks animals should suffer for beauty products.
As an illustration of this, last June, the California legislature passed the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Resolution with tremendous bi-partisan support. The Resolution was introduced by Senator Block (a Democrat) and it was presented in the Assembly by Assemblymember Maienschein (a Republican). The Resolution called on the federal government to phase out the testing and marketing of cosmetic products that have been tested on animals, and to prioritize the validation and acceptance of additional non-animal tests.
While ending animal cruelty appeals to the hearts and minds of both Republicans and Democrats there are often differences in opinion on how best to stop it. The devil is in the details, and those details can increase or decrease the chances of bipartisan support. Factors that increase the chances of bipartisan support include, sound science, economic viability, industry support, public support and common sense. Ending animal testing for cosmetics has all of these.
Industry, consumers, and animals all benefit from an end to animal testing for cosmetics. Here's how.
• Modern non-animal tests for cosmetics safety are accurate, efficient, and affordable. The tests usually carried out on animals for cosmetics ingredients have alternatives at similar or lower costs which have been approved by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as official Test Guidelines. The tests have comparable or higher predictive value for effects on humans than the animal tests that they replace.
• Phasing out animal tests will allow the American cosmetics industry to remain competitive in the global market. Countries around the world increasingly require non-animal safety tests and many have taken steps to prohibit cosmetics testing on animals. On March 11, 2013, the European Union, our nation's largest trading partner, which accounts for nearly half of the global cosmetics market, completed the phase out of animal testing for cosmetics and banned the importation and sale of any new cosmetics that have been tested on animals.
• Harmonization with global markets will help streamline trade and eliminate barriers. Having broadly similar safety testing regulations with our international trading partners could enable each cosmetics product brought to international market to have one safety dossier that would be universally accepted, thus allowing companies to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, paperwork, and duplication of tests.
Citing ethical, consumer safety and economic benefits, India banned the testing and sale of animal tested cosmetics in 2014. "Harmonization of India's regulation with that of Europe's cosmetics regulation will ensure an immediate upgrade of India's Safety standards in cosmetics testing using non-animal methods." -Maneka Gandi MP
• Cosmetic manufacturers increasingly accept that animal experiments are unnecessary. After New Zealand passed its ban in 2015, the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association said that they did not need animal tests, adding, "There might be some perception that we are actually testing within New Zealand so it's actually in the best interests of the exporting industry that we have a ban."
• Leading companies support a US phase out of animal tested cosmetics. In 2014, the Humane Cosmetics Act (HR 4148) garnered the endorsement of 133 companies and stakeholders in the cosmetics industry including luxury professional hair care brand Paul Mitchell, global beauty giant The Body Shop, and natural personal care icon Kiss My Face.
• U.S. consumers overwhelming support ending animal testing for cosmetics. Multiple polls show that the public supports cruelty-free cosmetics. Here are a few of the most recent examples.
A March 2015 Nielsen survey found that "not tested on animals" was the most important packaging claim among those surveyed which included consumers ranging from Generation Z to The Greatest Generation - clearly this is a multigenerational value.
The 2013 Gallup annual Values and Beliefs poll revealed that across all age groups the public is increasingly uncomfortable with animal testing. The poll noted, "Only one issue --attitudes toward animal testing -- has acceptance significantly declined, with the shift concentrated among those aged 18 to 34."
• Good for animals. Of course the benefits for the animals really goes without saying. Ending cosmetics testing on animals means animals will no longer have chemicals dripped in their eyes or rubbed on their skin or be routinely injected gassed, force-fed and killed for the sake of a new cosmetic.
Now that's something that all political parties and all species can support!