Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see legislation passed in every country outlawing cruel tests such as the Draize eye and skin tests, and the horrific LD50 toxicity test? Well, this is the aim of two visionary campaigns launched earlier this year, one by Humane Society International (HSI), the other by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).
In the European Union (EU), where animal testing of cosmetics is already banned, animal rights groups are appalled as policy makers, under pressure from the cosmetics industry, discuss delaying promised legislation to stop the import of cosmetics tested on animals.
Here in Australia there is no federal legislation to stop animal testing of cosmetics. While it is unlikely such experiments would be allowed, due to existing state regulations, it would be comforting to have legislative commitment. More importantly, the big brand cosmetics that fill the shelves of department stores are generally imported. If we, in Australia, seriously want to stop animal testing, we need to introduce legislation to ban the sale of animal tested cosmetics.
While it is disturbing that governments in Australia, New Zealand, the US, and even the EU, drag their heels over legislating to ensure non-animal safety tests replace the use of animals, it is understandable. Large cosmetic companies are very powerful, and they don’t want legislation that would interfere with their plans. Lucrative new markets are opening up, often in countries where animal testing is still the norm.
The majority of large companies are driven by profit, so much so they may forget to tell the truth. If consumers ask for cosmetics not tested on animals, such companies claim their products are cruelty free, whether they are or not. For years Avon, Estee Lauder and Mary Kay have promoted themselves as not testing on animals. Undoubtedly, this would have boosted their sales in countries like Australia. How embarrassing it must have been for those companies when they were recently “outed”. Representatives of the companies still insisted they were opposed to animal testing, despite the fact they were paying for Draize eye and skin tests to be done in Chinese government laboratories, as required by the country’s State Food and Drug Administration. China’s rapidly growing cosmetics market, currently valued at $15 million, must have been too much of a temptation.
There is no logical reason to subject animals to such cruel tests as the Draize eye and skin tests. Non- animal alternatives have been developed, assessed, and accepted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In the EU, legislation has been passed making it illegal to use animal tests instead of the alternatives. We will no longer accept lame excuses from companies or governments. If we do not demand legislative change to protect laboratory animals, we are consenting to companies torturing animals for no reason other than the unholy dollar.