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Yes to phase-out plan, No to strict animal-free testing for cosmetics

The long-awaited reaction of the European Commission to the European citizens' initiative (ECI) "Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without animal testing" has now been published. Doctors Against Animal Experiments (DAAE) sees reason for joy, but also for concern. The Commission supports a plan to phase out animal testing but does not want to consistently protect the EU-wide ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

1.2 million EU citizens supported the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) "Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without animal testing", which was organized by the international animal rights organizations/umbrella organizations Cruelty Free Europe (CFE), Humane Society International (HSI), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Eurogroup for Animals (EfA), and European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE). The German association DAAE is a member of the umbrella organizations EfA and ECEAE and was thus significantly involved in the ECI.

Key demands of the ECI to the EU Commission were, among other things, the development of a concrete phase-out plan for animal testing in the EU and a consistent ban on animal testing in cosmetics testing. Despite the EU's 2009 ban on animal testing for cosmetic ingredients, chemicals that industrial workers are in contact with or that end up in the environment continue to be tested on animals due to the European chemicals regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). Drafts for the planned update of the REACH regulation also indicate that the number of animal tests on chemicals will increase significantly in the upcoming years.

The EU Commission's reaction to the ECI's demands has both positive and disappointing aspects. DAAE welcomes that the Commission intends to launch a concrete EU-wide phase-out plan for animal testing. This roadmap includes the elimination of all regulatory animal use for safety testing of industrial chemicals, pesticides, biocides, and human and veterinary drugs. The longer-term plan to reduce and gradually end the use of animals in research and teaching is also considered positively by DAAE. However, it is disappointing that the Commission is ignoring the calls for a strict enforcement of the ban on animal testing for cosmetics - a ban that was enacted by the legislature more than ten years ago.

"EU citizens have clearly stated that animal testing does not have a place in our modern society," says Dr Tamara Zietek, Science Coordinator at Doctors Against Animal Experiments. “We welcome an EU-wide phase-out plan for animal use in safety testing, and in research and education. However, we condemn the Commission's failure to end the suffering of thousands of animals in tests for cosmetics. There are numerous innovative methods nowadays that do not require animals and have been proven to have better predictive power for humans than animal experiments. It is incomprehensible that the Commission is so hesitant to consistently use these methods instead of animal experiments when testing cosmetic ingredients," says Dr Zietek. DAAE welcomes the Commission's plan to audit the establishment of an expert committee, which is to act in an advisory and coordinating manner in the implementation of animal-free methods. The planned set up of a European research area to coordinate national measures to abolish animal testing and promote the use of non-animal methods is also encouraged. The association furthermore rates the organization of expert workshops positively. These should serve to define the first research areas in which animal testing will be phased out and thus help accelerating the transition to animal-free science.

"It now remains to be seen whether the Commission will actually consistently implement the announced measures," says Dr Zietek. "We and our international partners will monitor the developments closely and continue to join forces to end animal testing in the EU as quickly as possible."

Further information

Reference EU >>