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All Animal-Tested Cosmetics To Be Banned In EU, Court Rules

On September 21 the European Court of Justice ruled that there will be no exceptions to a blanket ban on animal-tested cosmetics within the EU. While animal testing on cosmetics has been forbidden since 2013, the case arose after the UK asked for clarification on the law.

Three companies belonging to the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients were found to have carried out tests outside the EU in order for their products to be sold in Chinese and Japanese markets. These products will now be definitively prohibited from being imported and sold within the Union.

Les lapins et les rongeurs sont les animaux les plus utilisés pour tester les cosmétiques (© Paul/ Flickr)

Rabbits, rats and mice are among some of the most tested upon animals. (Photo: Paul/ Flickr)

The EU court ruled that it will make no distinction depending on where the animal testing was carried out, stating that the "objective would be seriously compromised if the prohibitions... could be circumvented by carrying out the animal testing in third countries".

A push for alternative testing techniques

Anti-Vivisection League President Gianluca Felicetti  said of the move, "the ruling is also a victory for the validity of scientific research without animals". Today, numerous testing techniques exist that do not impact on living things; the decision also hopes to promote the development of these alternatives.

French cosmetics company, L'Oréal, for example, has been working with laboratory Episkin for a number of years to grow skin samples from tissues donated by plastic surgery patients. Last year, it also teamed up with bio-engineering start-up Organovo to explore the possibility of 3D-printing human skin for use in cosmetics testing.

Easier still would the decision to avoid using new chemicals that require testing and for brands to opt instead for more natural products. And it's not just animal welfare organisations that pushed for the change: a study carried out by the Nielsen Institute in 2015 found that "not tested on animals" was the most important packaging claim on beauty products.

The EU and its (current) 28 member states now join India, Israel and Norway as the only places to hold outright bans on cosmetic animal testing. Here's hoping that list gets even longer to eventually put an end to the needless and cruel practice once and for all.

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By Jeanne Pouget, published on 03/10/2016

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