Europe urges U.S., China to match ban on animal-tested cosmetics

BRUSSELS Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:05am EDT

An European Union flag flutters outside of the European Parliament in Brussels October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

An European Union flag flutters outside of the European Parliament in Brussels October 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union wants to persuade countries such as the United States and China to adopt its ban on the sale of new cosmetics tested on animals that came into force on Monday.

The ban, which follows years of campaigning by animal rights groups, applies to all new products and their ingredients sold in the 27-member union, regardless of where in the world the testing is carried out.

It was agreed a decade ago, but delayed several times to give Europe's cosmetics industry, worth an estimated 70 billion euros ($91 billion) a year, time to devise alternative tests.

The Commission, the EU's executive body that oversees consumer policy, said the ban was in line with the view of many EU citizens that developing new cosmetics does not justify the need for animal testing, which they regard as cruel.

It would try to convince trading partners in other parts of the world to follow Europe's example, and to share the costs involved in developing and validating alternative testing methods.

"The Commission will make this an integral part of the union's trade agenda and international cooperation," it said in a statement.

Industry body Cosmetics Europe, whose corporate members include L'Oreal and Johnson & Johnson, warned on Monday the ban would restrict the development of new products.

Existing products already tested on animals can still be sold.

BRAKE ON INNOVATION?

Within Europe, testing finished cosmetic products such as perfume, toothpaste and shampoo on animals has been banned since 2004.

However, until now the EU has allowed the sale of products tested on animals for certain specific risks in countries where no such ban exists, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and Russia.

In some countries, including China, animal testing is mandatory for some cosmetic ingredients and products.

Cosmetics Europe said there was a lack of alternative tests for risks such as genetic mutation or reproductive toxicity, which will make it hard to develop new products.

"If we want to introduce new ingredients in Europe it's going to be very difficult, because we don't have the tools available to address those endpoints," a spokesman for Cosmetics Europe said.

"The other part of the problem - and this does happen - is where there are questions over existing ingredients. If we can't reformulate, then products that contain those ingredients we will have no choice but to remove from the market," he added.

The Commission said it would monitor the impact on the industry and continue to fund research into alternative non-animal testing methods.

Israel imposed a similar ban on animal-tested cosmetics at the start of the year, and campaigners said India and South Korea are considering following suit.

Animal rights campaigners said the EU ban showed that animal experiments were not needed to ensure consumer safety.

"The European Union has taken a bold step and is showing the rest of the world what can be done," Eurogroup for Animals, an umbrella group for national animal welfare organizations said in a statement.

(Editing by Rex Merrifield and Erica Billingham)

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