For decades a contentious issue in chemical regulatory frameworks has been the welfare of animals and the extent to which we rely on animal testing data as the gold standard reference to verify the safety and efficacy of chemicals associated with human activities. However the crux of the issue has always hinged on the precedence human safety must take over animal welfare and without viable alternatives, the concerns of animal welfare activists and lobbyists were destined to fall on deaf ears.
However in tandem with technical developments has come the potential for viable alternatives to animal testing. With these developments, legislators and policymakers alike have increasingly sought to address the mounting public support for ethical alternatives to animal testing, ultimately culminating in the EU’s blanket ban on all animals testing for cosmetics. For many the move was seen as extremely controversial and threatened the competiveness of the European market at a number of levels. However, in light of recent developments, it may be that the EU’s gambit has proven itself both a noble and successful piece of legislation.
In a meeting on the 28th of June in New Delhi, India, attended by top ranking government officials and the country’s Drug Controller General (DCGI), it was announced that India plans to shortly follow suit and ban domestic animal testing of cosmetics. The countries Drug controller General Dr Singh stated “Keeping in view the cruelty towards animals involved, the testing of cosmetics on animals will now not be allowed in the country.”
Cosmetic testing in India has for over a decade been primarily governed by the cosmetics industry safety testing standard IS4011:1997, which designated animal testing data as vital for pre-clinical safety assessment.
In response to the news, member of India’s parliament Baijayant Panda stated: “This is a great day for India and for the thousands of animals who will no longer suffer, yet more work must be done. Our government must go a step further by banning cosmetics products that are tested on animals abroad and then imported and sold here in India. Only then will India demonstrate its commitment to compassion and modern, non-animal research methods and truly be cruelty free.”
The sentiment has been echoed by prominent global animal rights activist Troy Seidle, HSI's director of research and toxicology, stating: “India’s decision shows the way for all countries that are still undecided about whether to ban cosmetics animal testing. Those countries should take action now, follow India’s lead and end cruelty for beauty.”
The new legislation is by no means a tokenistic gesture and will be backed up by the countries existing laws such as the “Animal Cruelty Act” and the “Drugs and Cosmetics Act.” Enterprise found in violation of these laws will face hefty financial sanctions and jail sentences ranging from 3-10 years depending on the severity of the crime.
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