Animal testing for cosmetics could be making a comeback and soon be required in the UK. This practice has been widely condemned over animal cruelty issues and many activists arguing that experiments on animals are ineffective.
Animal experiments for the cosmetics industry and their ingredients were banned in the UK in 1998.
Recently, the Home Office has informed Cruelty-Free International (CFI) that the government has reconsidered its policy, as it was reported by The Guardian reports.
Last year, the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) appeals board stated that some ingredients must be tested on animals before human use for safety reasons.
ECHA ruled that Symrise – a major producer of fragrances – must test two of its cosmetics ingredients on animals.
The UK government accepted the ruling but noted that it has not changed its animal testing law. Still, CFI – an animal protection group – warns that ECHA's policy will result in a major increase in animal testing and experiments.
“The government is saying that even ingredients used solely in cosmetics, and with a history of safe use, can be subjected to animal tests in the UK, This decision blows a hole in the UK's longstanding leadership of no animal testing for cosmetics and makes a mockery of the country's quest to be at the cutting edge of research and innovation, relying once again on cruel and unjustifiable tests that date back over half a century.”Dr Katy Taylor, CFI's Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs
Animals like dogs, cats, rabbits, and mice, to name only a few of them, are subject to animal testing.
Activists and Campaigners say animal testing is not only unethical, but it is also impractical since skin allergy tests in guinea pigs and mice can only predict human reactions 72 percent and 82 percent of the time, respectively.
At the same time, chemistry and cell-based methods which do not involve animals can accurately predict human reactions with more than 90 percent of the time. Skin irritation tested on rabbits, predict human skin reactions only 60 percent of the time while using reconstituted human skin has up to 86 percent accuracy.
CFI's Director of Public Affairs, Kerry Postlewhite, spoke to “The Independent “ about the issue.
Postlewhite said the government must either properly enforce a ban on cosmetic animal testing or ‘come clean with UK consumers' by telling them that its anti-animal testing claims are ‘now so compromised as to really be meaningless'.
Dr. Julia Fentem is the Head of the Safety and Environmental Assurance Center at Unilever.
She told The Guardian that the UK's decision to support the Symrise ruling was a ‘retrograde step'.
She explained that there are about 100 cosmetics ingredients that can be tested on animals under chemicals regulations. Before the ban, most of these ingredients were tested on animals to study eye and skin irritation. But Taylor said the Symrise ruling would see additional tests being required, including looking at the effects of an ingredient on a fetus.