This week, Cruelty Free International cheered the introduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act by U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D-VA). This landmark legislation addresses the inherent cruelty of animal testing for cosmetics and seeks to ensure that modern non-animal tests are used to ensure product safety.
The introduction of the bill follows extensive campaigning in the U.S. by Cruelty Free International and precedes a Congressional briefing "Global regulations and advancements in alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics," to be hosted by Cruelty Free International in cooperation with Congressman Moran on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
The Humane Cosmetics Act would ban animal testing for cosmetics after a one-year phase in and followed by a three-year phase in period for a ban on the sale of animal tested cosmetics. This follows the approach taken in the European Union which began banning the testing of cosmetic products on animals in 2003 and finalized a marketing ban on March 11, 2013; as a result, cosmetic products and ingredients tested on animals anywhere in the world, after that date may not be sold there.
The longer phase in period in the EU was to allow opportunity for alternatives to be developed and accepted by international testing authorities. The setting of specific deadlines represented the necessary line in the sand that drove the development, acceptance and utilization of non-animal tests. Such tests have typically proven to be cheaper, quicker, and better at predicting human reactions than the antiquated animal tests first developed 70 years ago.
Today, there are alternatives for the most commonly required safety tests for cosmetics. In other cases, animal tests may not be necessary depending on the type of ingredient and its intended applications. Moreover, there are thousands established ingredients that are "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS), and therefore do not require further testing. There are, for example, almost 20,000 ingredients in the European Union's database for which safety data is already available.
Europe is the largest cosmetics market in the world and since the marketing of animal-tested cosmetics is now prohibited there, moving away from animal testing makes good economic and trade sense in addition to simply being the right thing to do.
Other countries have also been modernizing; Israel and Norway have had bans on animal testing in place for several years and, in 2013, India became the first country in Asia to announce a ban animal testing for cosmetics. Korea, Brazil and ASEAN are also making strides toward ending cosmetics testing on animals.
In contrast, the U.S. has currently has no federal law prohibiting animal testing even requiring that companies utilize alternatives before resorting to animal tests. In the absence of action at the federal level, three states, California, New Jersey and New York have passed laws mandating that available alternatives to animal tests be used for cosmetic testing. Of course, state laws only affect activities within state boundaries.
Congressman Moran's bill represents an opportunity for the whole United States to match international progress on this issue.
Harmonizing state, national and international laws on this issue not only benefits animals but also encourages modern science, benefits businesses and responds to the interests of consumers. Polls show that the American public overwhelmingly supports alternatives to testing cosmetics on animals and that a majority believe that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical.
It is time for the United States to catch up with modern advancements, consumer expectation and global progress to ensure that cosmetics are safe and humane. The Humane Cosmetics Act provides a perfect opportunity to ensure modern, humane alternative tests are at the heart of ensuring U.S. consumers' safety.
Compassionate consumers can do their part by encouraging their representatives to support the Humane Cosmetics Act by becoming a co-sponsor. There are two simple ways to do this: 1) by signing Cruelty Free International's petition and 2) by taking just five minutes to write and send a more personalized message to their representative.
Let's do this USA!