A global end to cosmetics animal testing and current dynamics in 3Rs science and policy worldwide were the two issues of debate of yesterday’s Animal Welfare Intergroup session.

Testing cosmetics products and their ingredients on animals is cruel, unnecessary and outdated. Cruelty Free International – one of the oldest and most respected groups working to end animal experiments – and global beauty brand The Body Shop have joined forces to finally bring this practice to an end the world over.

Cruelty Free International’s Director of Public Affairs, Kerry Postlewhite, said: “Our goal is an international agreement via the United Nations that will put an end to cosmetics animal testing for every animal, in every company and every country.”

The European Union testing and marketing ban which came into full force in 2013 shows that it is possible. The EU ban has also provided impetus for the development of non-animal alternative tests and has seen the European cosmetics industry – the biggest in the world – grow and innovate.

Sirpa Pietikäinen, the President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup said: “I’m proud of what we achieved in Europe, but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. As long as cosmetics animal testing remains possible anywhere in the world, we should encourage the EU and its member governments to do the right thing and lead the way to a global ban.”

Several other countries have followed suit and put bans in place – some more comprehensive than others. Legislation is currently under consideration in Australia, Brazil and Canada. However, waiting for change one-country-at-a-time is slow and can lead to a patchwork of differing laws.

Kerry Postlewhite said: “We need one of the 193 UN member states to stand up, show leadership and table a resolution to the UN General Assembly. Then we need other states to promote it and back it. It’s ambitious, but it’s what consumers all over the world want, and it’s in the interest of trade and industry to have one humane, ethical and cruelty free set of rules.”

Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE) said: “There are now thousands of cosmetics ingredients that we already know are safe. There are alternative tests that are often cheaper and more reliable. It really is time that no animals continue to suffer in the name of beauty. Let’s end this.”

François Busquet, Europe Policy Coordinator at the Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing- CAAT gave the session’s second presentation on current dynamics in 3Rs science and policy worldwide. The Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing is a joint venture of the University of Konstanz (Germany) and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland (USA). Collaboration between the two arms of CAAT is the basis for building a transatlantic bridge between scientists and regulators in Europe and the US.

François Busquet said- “the current dynamics in 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) for laboratory animals used for scientific purposes are globally positive. In spite of research and regulatory improvements in other parts of the world such as the USA and Canada, the European Union still spearheads and gives the tempo when it comes to 3Rs”.

The European Union is setting the pace within the legal frameworks of REACH, the complete ban on the sale of cosmetics developed through animal testing and the Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.

Also in research the EU is in the forefront with initiatives like EU-ToxRisk, an integrated European ‘flagship’ programme driving mechanism-based toxicity testing and risk asessment, and the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

Some Member States like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy and Sweden have their own national strategy on 3Rs science.

18 3Rs hubs within 12 Member States are currently operating. Future challenges for the EU are related to making sense of toxicological safety data collected by EU agencies (ECHA, EMA and EEA) in order to 1) make the data digital, 2) harmonise data format and 3) facilitate free data access to the scientific community. This would allow data mining and design of prediction models to further raise EU standards for consumer protection.

Policy makers should facilitate the incorporation of new regulatory development steered at the OECD level under the concept of adverse outcome pathways. These would include include subcellular and molecular signatures that indicate potential hazardous mechanisms in addition to individual and population effects.

Overall the stakeholders are also doing their part whether they come from trade associations, NGOs or from the European Commission by taking own-initiative, funding activities or joining efforts on specific topics (i.e. skin sensitization).

Last but not least, 3Rs is more than an animal welfare issue since it improves science, current state-of-the-art in research (reproducibility), technologies (organs-on-a-chip, induced pluripotent stem cells, computer modeling) and standards (human-based models).

Concluding a debate after the presentations Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP said “the 3Rs is not only important for animal welfare but also for better product, better technologies and better standards for the consumers. We need to find positive incentives, like fee reductions for companies to submit in vitro data for regulatory dossiers. That’s what the European Parliament can push the EU agencies to do.”


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