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Cape Town - The EU has officially banned the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals, including the sale of any cosmetic ingredient or product subject to any new animal testing.
In South Africa however, the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals is still legal, and unregulated.
“Animal testing is quite legal in South Africa, and is conducted at most universities, the Medical Research Council, other research facilities and private laboratories,” according to Beryl Scott, national chairwoman of Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa.
“The problem is that there are no statistics available (in South Africa) regarding the type of tests being conducted, the numbers of animals and species being used or areas of research,” she explained.
Following the EU ban, says Andrew Rowan, president and chief executive of the Humane Society International, the group is also celebrating news that Israel has enacted a ban on cosmetic animal testing.
Through their Be Cruelty-Free campaign, they and their partners were actively working with lawmakers, regulators and companies in various countries to stamp out animal cruelty in cosmetics testing.
They had already managed to persuade India’s Drug Controller General to issue a directive to eliminate animal testing for cosmetics, Brazil had improved its cosmetic testing guidelines, while South Korea was allegedly “at the table” after an “intensive series of governmental and corporate meetings”.
But Scott said it would be some time before South Africa made similar progress.
She said while it was unlikely that universities or other such facilities would conduct cosmetic tests on animals, South African law required any product (including cosmetics) containing pharmaceutical substances to be tested on animals during the development process.
Beauty Without Cruelty was “absolutely opposed to any animal tests”, Scott said, because they were not only inhumane, but also misleading and expensive. The results could also not be directly extrapolated to the human condition.
“Animals are poor models for human disease, and animal tests only give an approximation of the effect a substance will have on humans.”
Companies excluded from the organisation’s approved list include L’Oréal, Revlon and perhaps most notably, The Body Shop, which has long been celebrated by animal rights organisations around the world for their strict anti-cruelty policies.
“The Body Shop International is opposed to the use of animals in testing products or ingredients for the cosmetics and toiletries industry. In fact, through determined campaigning and with the support of customers, The Body Shop was instrumental in securing UK and European bans on animal testing for cosmetic purposes. Today, the Against Animal Testing policy at The Body Shop remains uncompromised,” says Lana-Anne Abrahams, national trainer for The Body Shop South Africa.
Scott counters that while The Body Shop may not test their own products on animals, they cannot be added to Beauty Without Cruelty’s “acceptable” list due to their “unacceptable parent company”, L’Oréal.
The Body Shop joined the L’Oréal group in 2006, just before owner and founder Anita Roddick died in 2007.
Abrahams said however that The Body Shop, as a member of the L’Oréal Group, “maintains its unique identity and values”.
Information pertaining to the percentage of profits that L’Oréal receives from The Body Shop is strictly confidential.
Asked to comment, L’Oréal South Africa’s corporate communications manager Celeste Tema said L’Oréal had “been committed for 30 years to replace the need for animal testing”.
“In the early 1980s, L’Oréal realised that the future of testing lay in developing ‘predictive’ tools, such as reconstructed skin models and computer modelling that could replace the need for animals,” she said.
“The group’s research paid off and, by developing these replacement tests, L’Oréal was able to end all testing of its products on laboratory animals, as early as 1989, without making our products any less safe.”
She added that there was still a need for “some animal testing” (allegedly only on rats and mice) for some new ingredients, due to a “small gap between what the replacement tests can help us predict about the ingredient, and what we need to know to ensure consumer safety”.
Consumer liaison officer for Revlon South Africa, Maree Shields, said that in June 1989 Revlon announced an end to the use of animals in all phases of research, product development, testing and manufacture of all of its products and raw ingredients.
“Revlon has maintained the spirit of the original seminal research to the present day where our cell biology laboratory is dedicated to the use of alternatives in a product safety and evaluation process,” she said.
“Revlon does not conduct animal testing, and has not done so since 1989. We comprehensively test all of our products using the most technologically advanced methods available to ensure they are both innovative and safe to use.”
Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa’s approved product list:
Fat and Rich
Onaka and Bloom
BWC say that companies which do not appear on the list may “claim” to be opposed to testing on animals, but still need to provide proof that they only used acceptable ingredients. - Weekend Argus