More than 1.4 million EU citizens have joined together to call for an end to animal testing in the cosmetics sector.
They signed the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to end animal testing, a campaign spearheaded by animal rights organizations Cruelty-Free Europe, PETA, Eurogroup for Animals, and the European Coalition to End Animal Testing.
The initiative launched in August 2021 and officially closed for signatory support on August 31, 2022.
It was set up in response to claims that the EU ban on cosmetics tests has been breached.
This is because regulations, like the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), require certain animal tests on new chemicals. Some of these are used in cosmetics, to determine worker safety.
The ECI wants to see EU policymakers halt REACH’s ability to undermine a full ban on animal tests. This is thought to be something that the public also wants to see.
“Today, European citizens are demanding an end to the cruel use of animals to test ingredients in cosmetics and other chemicals, as well as an ambitious plan to end all animal testing,” NGO Animal Rights said in a statement.
The EU’s stance on animal testing
The EU has made gradual progress since the first testing ban in 2004. This prevented products from being brought to market that had been tested in their finished guise.
From here, a ban on testing ingredients was initiated in 2009. However, exceptions were granted for potentially carcinogenic and toxic ingredients. This remained until 2013 when such exemptions were removed.
Also seeking an end to outmoded processes is the Forever Against Animal Testing petition. The latter was delivered to the UN, complete with 8.3 million signatures, in 2018. It was presented a few months after a landmark European Parliament vote to implement a global ban on cosmetics testing.
What happens now?
The latest ECI sees animal rights representatives joining forces with cosmetics companies to end animal testing entirely. These include Dove and The Body Shop. More than 10 million animals, including mice, primates, rabbits, and dogs, are still subjected to testing across Europe every year.
Reaching more than one million signatures, the ECI could now have enough momentum to push through radical change. It is hoped that the European Commission and European Parliament will both act to implement a blanket ban on cosmetic animal testing.
Animal testing in the spotlight
Last year, an animated mockumentary about a laboratory rabbit (named Ralph) supported calls for a global ban on animal testing.
Produced by The Humane Society of the United States, Save Ralph starred Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, and Taika Waititi, amongst others. Having garnered more than 280,000 views on YouTube, the film offered a unique look at the procedures and torment that laboratory animals are subjected to.
In June, Save Ralph was awarded the Grand Prix for Good award at the Cannes Lions film festival.
“This prestigious recognition by the Cannes Lions jury is an honor. [It’s] a testament to Ralph’s powerful message that testing cosmetics on animals is cruel and needs to stop,” Donna Gadomski, the film’s executive producer said.