Brands back MEP calls for global ban on animal testing in cosmetics

The announcement that European Parliament will discuss the options for a global ban on animal testing in cosmetics has been welcomed by a host brands, including The Body Shop, which want an international convention on the global ban to be created.

Last week, MEPs forming the Environment Committee met in Brussels to unanimously vote on placing a call for the global end to animal testing. Led by UK MEPs such as Julie Girling and Miriam Dalli, the committee followed the vote with a motion for resolution, which means that the European Parliament will now have to discuss an outright ban in 2018.

The motion for resolution will ask how the European Commission will ensure that all cosmetics placed on the EU market have never been tested on animals in countries outside the Union. It also calls for the Commission to take “decisive action” to create an international agreement to bring a definitive end to cosmetics animal testing globally.

Since the vote, Cruelty Free International, the animal protection organisation backed by hundreds of cosmetics brands including Madison Reed, Humble Brands and The Body Shop, has welcomed the decision and have called on companies and consumers to join the Forever Against Animal Testing campaign.

Cruelty Free International’s Michelle Thew said: “We are delighted the European Parliament is paying attention to the cruel and unnecessary testing on animals in cosmetics worldwide. The landmark ban in 2013 placed the EU at the forefront of the animal protection movement and the latest announcement shows this issue is still on the EU’s agenda.

“It sends a message to the UN that public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of ending the suffering of animals for the sake of beauty. We urge the General Assembly to pass a resolution and change the lives of countless animals as soon as possible.”

Legislative loopholes

Animal testing of finished cosmetics products and ingredients has been prohibited in the EU since 2004, with a testing ban introduced five years later. A marketing ban on products that had been tested on animals became fully applicable in 2013.

However, 80% of countries globally still allow animal testing and the marketing of these tested products. The EU also has limitations on the bans it can enforce. Notably, EU law only applies when testing takes place within the EU. Therefore, cosmetic companies can still test products on animals, provided they don’t do these in the EU or sell them in the EU markets.

More than 3.6 million signatures have highlighted the support for the Forever Against Animal Testing campaign, but The Body Shop wants to reach eight million signatures and to take the petition to the UN in 2018, to demand an international convention.

The Body Shop’s head of global campaigns Jessie Macneil-Brown added: “We hope this interest shown by the European Parliament committee helps progress our campaign, by putting the topic of animal testing in cosmetics high on the agenda of the international community.”

The motion will now be debated in Plenary in March 2018 and the Environment Committee will engage with both the European Council and the European Commission to discuss an action plan based on the model of the EU’s Cosmetics Regulation.

The former Conservatives MP Julie Girling, now standing as an independent politician, co-signed the call and believes it sends a signal to the UN that more effort is required to implement a global ban on animal testing.

“It’s hard to believe that a majority of countries still permit cosmetic testing on animals,” Girling said. “The EU has been standard bearer on animal welfare and has strict rules prohibiting animal testing – we now want to see this atrocious practice ended globally.”

Animal Welfare

Across other sectors, businesses have strengthened actions to promote animal welfare. UK supermarkets Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Waitrose have been listed amongst the best performing businesses for the management and reporting of farm animal welfare.

The supermarket retailers “occupy leadership positions” in Tier One of a study, while global firms such as McDonalds, Unilever, Tesco and Cargill are placing animal welfare as “integral to business strategy” and were therefore placed in Tier Two of five.

Elsewhere, VF Corporation – the owner of Timberland and The North Face – joined a coalition of retailers which have committed to use fur-free products.

The company joined the likes of H&M, Next and Topshop in the Fur Free Retailer Programme which partners with the Fur Free Alliance, an international group of 34 animal protection organisations.

At the October Kering 2017 talk at the London College of Fashion, Gucci’s president and chief executive Marco Bizzarri announced that the company would go “fur-free” next year and will auction off its remaining fur items to kick-start the transition.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie