BUAV accuses European Commission of weakening cosmetic animal testing marketing ban


The BUAV along with our colleagues in the ECEAE (European Coalition to End Animal Experiments) have accused the European Commission (EC) of acting unlawfully by attempting to weaken legislation introduced to bring an end to the controversial testing and marketing of animal tested cosmetics within the EU.

In 2003, following many years of campaigning led by ECEAE, the European Union introduced a number of animal test bans for cosmetics under the 7th amendment to the Cosmetics Directive. This was a huge step forward for animal welfare in the EU and received widespread political and public support.

The Cosmetics Directive included an unqualified ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the EU which came into force in March 2009. It also included a marketing ban on the sale and import into the EU of cosmetics tested on animals outside the EU. This too came into force in March 2009 although an exception was agreed for three tests - repeated-dose, toxicokinetics and reproductive toxicity. For these tests, the deadline was initially set at March 2013, although this can be extended even further if these tests do not meet non-animal alternative availability criteria. In the past few months, the EC has organised a series of working groups to prepare a report on the status of the availability of non-animal alternative methods. This report forms the basis for the public consultation launched on the 23rd July.

However, the EC appears to be attempting to weaken the Directive by having inexplicably included two additional animal tests - skin sensitization and carcinogenicity tests – which were not included in the marketing ban exception and which now have to meet the non-animal alternative before the marketing ban is implemented. The relevant working group’s findings suggest that replacement methods will not be available until 2017-2019 for skin-sensitisation; for carcinogenicity the working group is unable to say when they will be available.

BUAV and ECEAE Chief Executive, Michelle Thew states:

“This move will be extremely disappointing to citizens across the EU who support this ban. The European Commission appears to be extending the goal posts by including additional animal tests that need to pass the non-animal alternatives test. The ECEAE is concerned about this unlawful attempt to weaken the Cosmetics Directive. The marketing bans for skin sensitization and carcinogenicity tests were not conditional on non-animal alternatives being available. This was a directive based primarily on ethics, not science.”

6th August 2010