Long-held discussions and efforts to ban animal testing throughout the globe have gained traction as the nation’s decision to introduce its first non-animal cosmetics test marks an important step towards the end of testing cosmetics on animals.
“The Chinese government’s acceptance of the 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity assay is an important first step in ending the requirements for tests on animals for cosmetics in China,” said Amanda Nordstrom with PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies programme.
The 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity assay measures a substance's potential to cause damage when exposed to light, and its use in China will prevent animal testing.
“This breakthrough is thanks to scientists from the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, whose groundbreaking work in China begun with a grant from PETA after we exposed China's requirements for cosmetics tests on animals in 2012,” attributed to Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president, PETA.
“Cosmetics companies selling in China can now choose to submit data from this non-animal test method, instead of paying for a cruel and deadly test on animals, to meet the requirements of safety evaluations for a substance’s potential to cause damage when exposed to light,” added Nordstrom.
“Government scientists are being trained in non-animal test methods to assess phototoxicity, skin and eye irritation and skin sensitisation.”
Cosmetics tests on animals for cosmetics are already banned in many countries including the EU, Israel, India, Norway, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand and, most recently, Taiwan.
“This international trend shows the public’s strong opposition to cruel tests on animals for cosmetics, and has revolutionised the way cosmetics companies do business in order to meet the growing demand for cruelty-free cosmetics,” stated Nordstrom.
“Despite this international progress, China has been the outlier by continuing to require these archaic and deadly tests for cosmetics, but the acceptance of this first completely non-animal test method signals the government’s intention to end these requirements.”
PETA are urging companies to refuse to sell cosmetics products “until the requirements for tests on animals for cosmetics are completely lifted in China”.
“Companies should look to this victory and the global demand for cruelty-free cosmetics and support the groundbreaking work of the expert scientists at IIVS in fighting towards a cruelty-free cosmetics industry.”
In 2013, PETA announced the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposal to change the methods used to produce some cosmetics manufactured in China.
At the time, animal testing for the purposes of creating cosmetics was compulsory and required on all imported cosmetics, new cosmetic ingredients, and ‘special-use’ cosmetics such as hair dyes, deodorants and sunscreens before being purchased.
In June 2014, China’s FDA reformed regulations by removing the mandatory requirement for pre-market animal testing for non-special-cosmetics-use manufactured in mainland China.
The reformed rule sought to help limit the amount of animal testing conducted and instead, promote non-animal product safety assessments.
Following this rule change, various animal groups began providing ‘cruelty-free’ endorsements for Chinese companies.
The US Leaping Bunny programme overseen by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics stated that “any company that markets or sells their products in China may be removed from the Leaping Bunny Program unless a company can provide proof that they are exempt from animal testing now and anytime in the future”.
Australia’s Choose Cruelty-Free also stated “is very concerned about cosmetic companies selling, or contemplating selling, their products in China. If your company decides to enter a market where animal testing of your products is still required you will be removed from the Choose Cruelty-Free List”.