The new proposal stipulates that alternatives may be used if they satisfy OECD or MDFS regulations for alternatives.
It marks a major breakthrough with the administration’s previous policy, which did not require animal testing by law, and allowed alternatives which were "scientifically and reasonably validated," but which also made it difficult for cosmetics companies to sell 'functional' brands without using it to establish the safety of their products.
The Ministry has suggested that reasons for this change include reflecting a global trend for alternatives to animal testing being developed for cosmetics and to give “authority and stress management” to the industry in managing quality assurance.
Wendy Higgins, EU communications director of Humane Society International, commented to CosmeticsDesign-Asia.com: “Previously, animal testing, while not required by law, was pretty unavoidable for functional cosmetics. This change gives companies an opportunity to improve the quality of the data they are putting forward in their products.”
“It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not the end of the story by any means.”
Bringing in line with the OECD
The new policy proposal allows testing methods for cosmetics approved by the OECD and MDFS to be used, in addition to allowing methods which are considered scientifically and reasonably valid.
According to HSI, this will make it considerably easier for companies to gain approval to use alternatives to animal testing- although many companies in South Korea already claim to be 'cruelty free'
The proposal would also ban the use of Glyceryl, PABA and Aminobenzoic Acid as filters in cosmetics, and removes the current testing list for heavy metal and contents in order to increase autonomy in the industry. The bill will be available for submissions by outside groups during a comment period lasting until December 26 2013.
Wendy said that the new requirements might follow a similar road to China, which now has a policy suggestion that the results of EU-approved methods of none-animal testing be accepted by the government.
She said: “The end goal would be a testing ban and we would hope that the Korean authorities would be prepared to do that. This move is a significant stepping stone towards a testing ban.”
HSI also believe that changing the law to outright ban the use of animals, of which similar developments have recently been carried out in India and Europe, would stimulate the development of alternative methods of cosmetics testing.