Proposed pilot programme supports avoidance of China’s mandatory animal testing

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Proposed pilot programme supports avoidance of China’s mandatory animal testing
Animal rights advocate, Cruelty Free International, is in talks to create a pilot programme to help overseas brands bypass China’s enforced animal testing rules, reports reveal.

Cruelty Free International, a leading organisation which works to end animal experiments around the world, has signed an agreement with Chinese authorities to lift the imposed animal testing requirement for foreign firms, the Australian Financial Review reports​.

Removing testing requirement

As the agreement will see mandatory animal testing on cosmetics imports lifted for overseas companies for a specific trial period, brands may now be able to enter a market previously at odds with their cruelty-free stance.

With China’s cosmetics market currently worth €38.1 bn, the pilot programme welcomes the opportunity for brands to enter and trade in the dominating APAC beauty hub.

Overseas obstacles

Companies outside of China have faced criticism in recent time for launching their products in the marketplace, notably cosmetics, skin care and make up provider NARS, which sought to grab share and consumer loyalty in 2017.  

"We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China,”​ NARS announced in a statement in June 2017.

"We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods.” 

New cruelty-free methods 

The China Food and Drug Administration launched a non-animal testing laboratory, named the Institute for In Vitro Sciences​, as the country seeks to introduce cruelty-free ways to test cosmetics.

In an exclusive interview with Cosmetics design Asia, Erin Hill, Co-Founder and President Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) emphasised the importance of support from the industry as a whole and revealed: “The technical work that needs to be done to test final formulations is true.”

NARS is one such company backing the Institute, revealing in its statement: “We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognised organisation at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world."

Research backed by science

On 30th May 2018, Cruelty Free International unveiled its recent research ​analysing animal drug-testing has been supported by recently-published scientific research. 

The paper, 'A big data approach to the concordance of the toxicity of pharmaceuticals in animals and humans​' reports the analysis of more than 3,000 drugs and the adverse reactions in five animal species as well as in humans. It also concluded that lack of toxicity in animal tests was not good a predictor of lack of toxicity in humans.

“The new paper also confirmed our finding that adverse reactions in animal tests are also likely to occur in humans, but often not in a similar manner. However, we believe this difference means animal tests cannot be considered particularly consistent or reliable,”​ Cruelty International revealed in a statement.

“We are pleased to see our study replicated by external groups and that our results have been validated. It is now important that the findings of both these studies, and others, are examined in more detail, and results used to replace the use of animals, including dogs and monkeys as second species, as soon as possible,”​ commented Dr Jarrod Bailey, Senior Research Scientist at Cruelty Free International.

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