Big Step Forward: European Union Bans Animal Testing

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For reasons of both science and ethics, the world is still debating whether or not animal testing is necessary for cosmetics. For the most part, international governments have been pretty wishy-washy on the issue (aside from China, where it's actually required). But now, the European Union is taking a strong stance and banning the import or sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. The ban also extends to ingredients themselves, and though the legislation will certainly take time to settle and a new infrastructure to enforce, this is undoubtedly a big step forward for animal-rights activists (or just people who love bunnies) the world over.

EU health commissioner Tonio Borg wrote of the ban, “This decision…means that we need to step up our efforts in the development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods, as well as in the international recognition of these methods." Animal-rights organizations are already praising this bold action, which will take effect in March, as a watershed moment for the movement.

We're more than a little bit glad to hear of this news, and we hope we're right in assuming that, sooner or later, other governments will follow suit (including our own). In the big picture, this is sure to have an immediate effect on R&D departments in every company, from the juggernauts down to the boutiques. But in the immediate future, this could mean a sticky situation for international cosmetics companies who are taking advantage of the rapidly-growing Chinese market. The potential profits are way too gigantic to ignore, and while some scientists are taking steps towards avoiding animal testing, the law remains.

But our humble opinion is that this official position can enforce change even in countries and companies that stand by animal testing. Now that this issue has a major backer in the public sphere, consumer opinion is bound to change as animal testing becomes verboten in the EU. That makes us feel as warm and fuzzy as one of the animals whose lives will be saved by this new action.

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Photo: Bruce Weber/Courtesy of CR Fashion Book.