On March 11 2015, the revision of Korea’s Cosmetic Act was proposed by congresswoman Jung-Lim Moon at the National Assembly with the goal of ending animal testing of cosmetics. The announcement marks a milestone in Korea’s journey towards ending animal testing of cosmetics. The draft bill has already received support from 22 Assembly members and will be discussed at the upcoming Assembly session in April. If successful the bill will come into effect two years after its announcement.
Coincidentally, March 11 is also the two-year anniversary of the EU’s ban on the sale of newly animal-tested cosmetics. However, unlike the EU ban, the Korea bill only bans animal testing where accepted non-animal alternatives are available. If an alternative is not available, animal testing will be allowed. “This is an important departure from the precedents set by the EU, Israel and India, which have all banned cosmetics animal testing regardless of the status of alternatives. “ BeCrueltyFree’s South Korea campaigner Borami Seo noted.
In Korea, only 9 alternative methods are officially accepted by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) from OECD alternative test guidelines. They are as follows:
- In vitro 3T3 NRU Photoxicity Test
- Skin sensitization: Local Lymph Node Assay
- Acute Oral Toxicity: Fixed Dose Procedure
- Acute Oral Toxicity: Acute Toxic Class Methods
- Skin Absorption: In vitro method
- Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Assay
- Local Lymph Node Assay: DA
- Local Lymph Node Assay: BrdU-ELISA
- In vitro Skin irritation test: RHE test method
Seo revealed that two alternatives, namely “acute oral toxicity: up-and-down procedure” and “isolated chicken eye test method” are being assessed and are scheduled to be accepted by MFDS in 2015.
In addition, the bill exempts several product categories and types of ingredients from the scope of the ban including preservatives, sterilization agents, colorants, sunscreen chemicals and other ingredients that are required to perform harm evaluation according to Article 8-3 in the Cosmetic Act. Furthermore, ingredients that are animal tested for other regulatory purposes are or to meet mandatory regulatory requirements of other countries are also permitted to be sold in Korea. BeCrueltyFree campaigns director, Claire Mansfield said, “It is gratifying to see this bill launched. However, it would be naive and disingenuous to gloss over the fact that the bill contains several exemptions that could still allow some animal testing to continue well beyond 2017. So work to achieve a comprehensive ban on cosmetic animal testing in Korea should be continued.”
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