Will animal experiments be allowed in the EU in 2021?
I have bad news folks. We already knew that the EU ban on animal testing was not a total ban. Many cosmetic ingredients have been tested at the chemical level according to REACH laws and take precedence over animal testing laws. Recently my attention was drawn to the fact that the situation is much worse than we originally thought. So basically a lot of cruelty-free beauty brands (in the EU, US and beyond) aren’t actually cruelty-free, and the brands may not even know it.
I discussed this with Jean from the Bunny Army. She is at the forefront of investigating animal testing laws. She is the lead author of the peer-reviewed paper that explains the animal experiments that have been hidden from us. This is their summary of what is going on:
Animal testing in the EU – 2021
What’s happening? Cosmetic ingredients in the EU are tested on animals under the EU chemicals law REACH, although another law, the Cosmetics Ordinance, prohibits animal testing with cosmetic ingredients.
Why does it happen? The Cosmetics Ordinance has gaps. The EU agency that enforces REACH says these loopholes require animal testing of cosmetic ingredients for ecotoxicity and occupational safety. The agency claims that the Cosmetics Ordinance’s ban only applies to consumer safety tests.
Why am I only now hearing about it? The tests are buried in the REACH chemical files. Official EU reports on animal experiments list the tests only as “Industrial Chemicals Act” tests. There was no public coverage of these as tests on cosmetic ingredients. A recently published * analysis of the REACH dossiers revealed the scope of the REACH testing of cosmetic ingredients.
How bad is it? A survey of products at two EU retailers, one high-end and one mass market, found over 400 cosmetics with ingredients likely to have been tested on animals. Products included hair care, skin care and makeup products. Brands are unlikely to be aware of the tests as there is currently no process in the EU to inform them.
Can that be fixed? Yes. It has to be set by the European Commission / Parliament through the amendment of REACH and the Cosmetics Regulation to prohibit animal testing with cosmetic ingredients for any purpose.
A coalition of EU animal welfare groups is about to launch a major campaign. You can also write to your cruelty-free brands to show your support for them and ask them to share any updates on social media so we can all stay tuned.
You can visit Bunny Army for more information on this topic.
* Ongoing animal testing with cosmetic ingredients under REACH.
Leaping Bunny Statement
Here is Leaping Bunny’s public statement on the matter:
“We appreciate the research and analysis that has gone into this report, and we fully support calls in the EU, both by industry and animal welfare groups, to maintain the cosmetic testing ban. The requirements for animal testing of cosmetic ingredients according to REACH clearly contradict the intent of the EU Cosmetics Regulation and represent a serious betrayal of consumers and citizens. Consumers in the USA and Canada can rely on Leaping Bunny-certified companies being very committed to Manufacture products free of animal testing. They go through a careful and thorough screening process to ensure compliance with our standard, and we will continue to work with certified companies in the US and Canada to help them stay cruelty free in this challenging environment. “
My thoughts on moving forward
Rather than prosecuting individual companies, we really need to ban as a community and get lawmakers to change the laws that make animal testing mandatory. Many brands have NO clue that the ingredients they buy are tested on animals.
The ingredients are part of the global supply chain so this is not just an EU problem. Many big brands are sold worldwide, and many brands in the US and other non-EU countries buy ingredients from EU companies. For example, there are a small number of fragrances and flavors that almost every cosmetic (and food company!) Company sources essential oils and flavor chemicals from (Symrise, Firmenich, Givaudin, etc.). These companies WANT to remain cruel free, but are at the mercy of the legislature.
I think it is important to note that we do not need to incite hatred of any particular country (China, EU, etc.) or its citizens. We just have to change the laws. Side note: You can read more about China’s animal testing laws here. The article explains why post-market animal testing is no longer a major concern in China – just before it is placed on the market.
And (you might be wondering) how do we make sure chemicals are SAFE for us and our environment? There are alternatives to most animal testing. Animal testing is often cheaper (requires less training, technology, and personnel), but it is not ethical.
As mentioned earlier, a coalition of EU animal welfare groups is about to launch a major campaign. I will let you know as soon as that happens, so stay tuned. And (nicely) let your favorite cruelty-free brands know and ask them to keep us posted.
You can also share this picture on social media with a link to this page to get the word out: