Big news from China! The country has effectively removed its requirement for cosmetics to be tested on animals in order to be approved for sale. While that doesn’t mean the end of suffering for lab rats and rabbits everywhere, activists are hopeful it is the start of a new, kinder era.
“It’s a significant departure,” said Troy Seidle, director of research and toxicology for the Humane Society International. “Certainly it’s the first time we’ve seen an animal test requirement being removed from Chinese regulations for cosmetics.”
HSI is one of the major agencies behind the Be Cruelty-Free campaign in China. They have been pushing for the mandated animal testing policy instated in 2012 to be reversed. The requirement forced companies like Avon and Estée Lauder who did not use the cruel methods of research, to start using them in order to still be able to sell to the large Chinese market.
“For decades Estée Lauder enjoyed the support of consumers who believed the company’s ban on animal tests was permanent,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president at People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. “When the company quietly resumed its support for animal tests, it did not bother to inform those consumers.”
As a result, dedicated animal lovers and activists had to do their own research to find out which companies remained cruelty free. Lush, E.L.F. and The Body Shop were some of the ones that opted out of a growing $1.7 billion Chinese market for the cause and spared an estimated 300,000 rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and other critters from being used as test subjects.
Experts are warning, however, that just because the law has changed, that doesn’t mean all brands will immediately stop testing on animals.
“The regulation was written with certain caveats (i.e. other technologies need to be available, etc.),” wrote Erin H. Hill, vice president for program development at the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, in an email. “Since many of these have not been met, it is likely that the C.F.D.A. will continue to conduct their post-market surveillance as they have in the past.”
“You can change the policy but whether the day-to-day testing practice is going to change is still anyone’s guess,” agreed Mr. Seidle. “It is going to be very slow-go for the time being,” and “we can’t expect China to get there overnight. It’s just not reasonable.”
So maybe not overnight, but soon. We’ll take the baby steps towards a cruelty free market.
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