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This article has been written by Anindita Deb, a student of Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA. This article discusses the situation of animal testing for cosmetic products and the laws in existence to prevent cosmetic testing on animals.  

Introduction

In an age where social media influence is increasing, the demand for cosmetic products has also significantly gone up. New cosmetic products are constantly being developed to suit the needs of the customers; concealers and highlighters were barely used by people a decade ago. This increased need for cosmetics and the need for companies to introduce new and better products leads to an increase in animal testing for these products. 

Millions of animals are poisoned or murdered as a result of inhumane tests conducted to identify the harmful effects of a product and its contents on customers. Various animals such as rats, frogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, monkeys, hamsters, and others are forced to inhale and consume various chemicals to determine whether the substance is toxic or fit for human consumption. Cruelty like this is being practised to date.

These poor creatures are still being forced to inhale large amounts of a test chemical. Even after it has been established that animal tests are incapable of predicting the outcomes of human skin and body tests, and despite the availability of testing alternatives that do not include the use of animals, such cruel practises continue. Every year, 100,000-200,000 animals are believed to suffer and die as a result of cosmetic experimentation around the world.

Why is there a need to stop animal testing

It goes without saying that it is immoral to use animals to make a profit through experimental research. Besides, for ages animals have been of such great company to humans and it is beyond unfair to cause them pain in return for their compassion. Animal testing needs to be stopped because:

  • First of all, animals as living creatures also have certain rights and these rights are infringed when they are used for testing and research. They are forced to ingest toxins, which can cause permanent damage or even death. Their meek nature is exploited and tests are performed without their consent as would have been the case if a human was to be tested for a study. It is also unethical because their basic rights are being violated. As a result, it should be stopped because it violates animal rights.
  • Secondly, all of the misery and suffering caused to them is simply inhumane. What they go through, however, is not worth any prospective human advantage, at least not in the case of cosmetic testing as it is not for any greater human good or extremely essential for the protection of human health. Animals are subjected to painful and even fatal experiments when they are utilised in various tests and studies. All of the experimental animals are put through excruciating agony and suffering, as well as death.
  • Lastly, the fact that new-age technology has introduced new testing alternatives and techniques, animal testing has turned completely unnecessary. 

Laws passed against cosmetic testing on animals in India

The Central Government of India has introduced various legislations to prevent infringement of animal rights and ensure their safety. Following are the Acts for protection of animal rights:

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was enacted in 1960. The provisions of this Act aim to describe and punish cruelty offences against animals. 

  • Section 3 outlines the various duties of a man in charge of an animal in caring for it, which include not harming or injuring it.
  • Section 11(1) of the Act enumerates the different acts of cruelty against animals. Under this section, if one performs any act of cruelty mentioned under clauses (a) to (o), the offender (in case of a first offence) shall be liable to pay a fine which can extend up to fifty rupees and in case of a subsequent offence within 3 years of the previous offence, he shall be fined with not less than twenty-five rupees but the fine may extend up to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term of up to 3 months, or with both. In addition, if the offender commits a second offence, his vehicle will be seized, and he will never be permitted to keep an animal again.
  • A police officer above the rank of constable has the general right of seizure for examination under Section 34 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. If a police officer learns that an act prohibited under the PCA Act has been or is being committed against any animal, he has the authority to seize the animal and produce it for examination by the local magistrate or by the Veterinary Officer. Whether it is a case of animal overloading or animal abuse, the police have the authority to seize animals if they are involved in any of the offences listed in this PCA Act and send them to veterinary hospitals for treatment and care.
  • Section 35 of the PCA Act provides for the treatment of animals. According to Section 35, the animals must be detained and brought before the magistrate.  Animals will be treated and cared for in an infirmary until they are healthy enough to be discharged. The animal that has been sent to an infirmary for care and treatment cannot be discharged until the veterinary officer has issued a certificate of fitness for discharge. The cost of transferring the animal to an infirmary, as well as its care and treatment there, must be covered by the animal’s owner.
  • The killing of an animal or pet is prohibited and constitutes cruelty to animals, as defined by Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code make it a cognizable offence. The punishment for causing mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless any animal or animals worth ten rupees or more is outlined in Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code.
    The punishment for such offences may be simple or rigorous imprisonment for a duration of up to two years, or a fine, or both. The punishment for the same type of offence is dealt with in
    Section 429 of the IPC, but for animals valued fifty rupees or more. A first information report (FIR) must be filed with the local police station as soon as possible. In this case, the punishment will be either imprisonment for a term of up to five years or a fine, or both.

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted to ensure that wild animals are protected in their natural habitats. Some provisions of this Act provide for punishment against offences committed against animals due to testing on them. 

  • Section 50 allows any officer authorised by the director or chief wildlife officer to arrest and detain anyone without a warrant. The police must, however, have reasonable grounds and reasons to suspect that the person in question committed the offence.
  • It outlaws animal sacrifice, as well as injury to animals, with the penalty set out in Section 51 of the Act.
  • Section 51(1) of the WPA states that anyone who violates any provision of the Act, or any regulation or order made thereunder, is guilty of an offence under the Act and, if convicted, shall face a sentence of imprisonment for a term of up to three years, or a fine of up to twenty-five thousand rupees, or both.

India places a permanent ban on cosmetic testing on animals

Following the example of the removal of animal tests from cosmetics testing standards by the PCD 19 Cosmetics Sectional Committee of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) the previous year, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare published the cosmetic testing ban, which adds the new rule ‘148-C’ to the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. Under this rule, no person shall use any animal for the testing of cosmetics. This was a big victory for animals in India because while BIS standards can be changed, such adjustments must never incorporate animal tests. Since any article intended for use as a component of a cosmetic is included in the definition of “cosmetics” under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules of 1945, the restriction on animal testing should apply to ingredients as well. The removal of animal experiments from the standards had been the result of a long-running campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, as well as efforts by then MP Maneka Gandhi and others.  

One step closer – India strengthens import ban on animal-tested cosmetics

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in response to PETA India’s recommendations, has included provisions in its new Cosmetics Rules, 2020 – which provide a separate and updated regulatory framework for testing, manufacturing, selling, stocking, exhibiting, and importing cosmetics in India – to ensure that the ban on the importation of cosmetics tested on animals is enforced.

Soon after the Central Government announced a ban on the importation of cosmetics tested on animals in 2014, PETA India alerted the administration to apparent violations of the legislation. PETA provided evidence that cosmetics offered by Indian companies are also registered under the same brand for sale in China, where animal testing is required for cosmetics.

Many imported items are forced down the throats of rats or applied straight to the shaved skin or eyes of rabbits, as every company that sells in China knows. It was also pointed out that Indian regulators were merely relying on importers’ declarations rather than scrutinising the safety data supplied to verify compliance with the importation and marketing ban.

Manufacturers and importers must submit safety data using only non-animal assessment techniques, along with documentation that confirms the precise methods used and a list of countries where marketing authorisation or import permission has been obtained, to facilitate effective enforcement. This should be backed by a declaration that “no cosmetic manufactured by us shall be imported into India that has been tested on animals.” 

Following discussions with PETA India, India became the first country in Asia to prohibit the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals, as well as the importation of cosmetics that have been tested in this manner. Significantly, the restrictions are founded on the premise that any harm to animals can never be justified by the prospective benefit of modern cosmetics.

Laws related to cosmetic testing on animals outside India

While many countries have banned cosmetic testing and formulated regulations for animal testing for any purpose, there are still some countries that conduct animal testing for manufacturing new cosmetic products. The scenario in this concern in a few countries has been discussed below.

The European Union (EU)

Testing cosmetic products or any of their ingredients on animals is banned all across the EU. This means that selling or marketing a cosmetic product in the EU is unlawful if the finished cosmetic or its ingredients have been subjected to animal testing.

A ban on animal testing for finished cosmetic products and ‘ingredients intended largely for “vanity” products’ was first enacted in the UK in 1998. Animal-tested cosmetics were banned in the EU for the first time in 1993, with the full ban taking effect in 2013. While the United Kingdom was the leader in banning animal-tested cosmetics, EU Regulation 1223/2009 now incorporates this legislation (Cosmetics Regulation).

Cosmetic items sold in the EU (including the UK) must be judged safe, and it is the manufacturer’s job to ensure that they (and their ingredients) are subjected to scientific safety assessments to establish that they are not toxic to humans. 

Safety assessments involving the use of animal studies to identify toxicological endpoints were required before the ban on animal-tested cosmetics was enforced. The results of this research, which mostly used rodents and rabbits, examined the effects of the cosmetic and its ingredients on human health. Animal research for an ingredient in a new cosmetic product would not need to be repeated if a safety assessment for the ingredient already existed (the animal study for the finished cosmetic would still be required). Animal studies, on the other hand, were required for a new ingredient for which there had previously been no safety assessment.

Animal studies were no longer required as a result of the development of non-animal techniques, and a ban on animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients was imposed. 

The USA

Cosmetics in the United States are governed by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, which prohibits the use of hazardous ingredients in cosmetics. If a cosmetic is placed on the market, the manufacturer must check whether it poses a risk to consumer health using methods such as literature studies, animal experiments, or alternative approaches; otherwise, the cosmetic must contain the disclaimer “the safety of this product has not been determined”.

Animal research and clinical trials are required for new active ingredients in Over-The-Counter (OTC) products (anti-acne, anti-caries/anti-plaque, anti-hair loss, anti-dandruff, antiperspirant products, skin whiteners, sun protection products).

While animal testing is not prohibited in the United States, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) was established in 1997 to reduce it. The test becomes available for all toxicological purposes after ICCVAM indicates that an alternative method has been satisfactorily validated and the relevant test recommendations are accepted or endorsed by Federal regulatory agencies.

Japan

In Japan, a variety of products classified as cosmetics in the EU are classified as quasi-drugs. Anti-hair loss products, hair permanents/straighteners, depilatories, antiperspirant, deodorant, anti-acne, skin whiteners, bath treatment products, and medicinal cosmetics such as anti-dandruff shampoos are all included in that category. These products are subject to the same regulations as medicines, and a toxicological dossier is necessary for approval of a new quasi-drug ingredient which includes animal testing when no alternatives are available.

Israel

Israel banned animal testing for cosmetics and other products in 2007. The Government of Israel then passed a law in 2010 to ban animal testing for cosmetic products imported into the country. This law came into being on January 1st, 2013.

The law governs cosmetic products, toiletries, detergents, and any products that have been developed through animal testing anywhere in the world. This means there is a ban on the marketing of animal-tested cosmetics, even if the laboratory where these tests were conducted is situated outside the country.  

Alternative tests and technologies for cosmetic testing

According to Chaitanya Koduri, a PETA scientific policy advisor, there are multiple alternative tests and technologies available that can produce considerably more precise results for various products and toxics than animal testing. Essentially, two alternative tests that can be used instead of animal testing are notably the acute oral toxicity limit test and the oral mucosal irritation test. Computer simulations and testing on human cells can easily replace animal testing.

Various organisations and groups have authorised and recommended alternative tests. Modern non-animal alternative testing has also evolved into invasive animal tests. Over 10,000 companies throughout the world have now abolished all animal tests in favour of more effective and modern non-animal procedures, yet some may still opt to subject animals to cruel examinations.

Conclusion

Animal testing for cosmetics is still permitted in 80% of the world’s countries. Animals being subjected to excruciatingly painful experiments for cosmetics is not only unethical but also needless. There are thousands of cosmetic ingredients that have been proven to be safe and can be employed in the development of new cosmetics.

There are also dozens of non-animal experiments that are more valuable, faster, and accurate than animal tests at predicting human reactions to a product. All of this said, hurting animals and violating their rights just because they cannot speak for themselves is a miserable failure of us being humans. 

References

 


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