By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block
Even in our age of advanced technologies, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats continue to have chemicals and substances forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes or slathered on their skin to satisfy new regulatory demands that undercut progress against cosmetic animal testing. That’s why we put so much effort into legislative and regulatory change—removing the driver for new animal testing and ultimately banning it.
So, we rejoiced last week when Mexico became the first nation in North America to pass a law banning animal testing for cosmetics. Once enacted, the new law also bans the manufacture, import and marketing of cosmetics tested on animals elsewhere in the world. With the addition of Mexico, 41 countries have banned such testing. Also, seven states in the U.S. have prohibited the sale of animal-tested cosmetics and 10 states in Brazil have also enacted bans.
Over the years, we have largely campaigned against cosmetic animal testing because of the terrible suffering and loss of animal life inherent to such procedures. As we approach critical mass in our global effort to end cosmetics testing on animals, it is more important than ever that we make it clear that we do not just stand against animal suffering, we also stand for something: The transition to state-of-the-art non-animal methods that are rapid, inexpensive, more accurate and simply better at assuring safe use for humans. This is part of a vision of a more humane world in which corporate, institutional and public policies take animals’ interests deeply into account, a world that recognizes their dependence on us, does real justice by them and seeks to draw out the best in ourselves.
In Mexico, members of the Senado de la República unanimously adopted the federal bill to end cosmetic animal testing thanks to the bill’s champions, Senator Ricardo Monreal, Humane Society International/Mexico, Mexican animal organization Te Protejo and other key stakeholders. HSI’s stop-motion animated film “Save Ralph” also played a pivotal role in carrying this law across the finish line. The film—which tells the story of a rabbit “tester” through voices from a multinational, multilingual cast of stars, and went viral worldwide with more than 150 million social media views and over 740 million tags on TikTok—helped to generate more than 1.3 million petition signatures in Mexico.
Companies like Lush, Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal, Avon and Givaudan are working with HSI through the Animal-Free Safety Assessment Collaboration to secure stronger policy alignment and provide training in modern, non-animal approaches to cosmetic safety assessment to build capacity across the global industry, together with acceptance by regulatory authorities. But the U.S., Canada, Brazil and other major economies still lag behind the now 41 other nations who have taken a federal stand against cosmetic testing on animals. That’s why our public policy work is laser-focused on these remaining target nations for the campaign. In the U.S. we are also pressing for state laws banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics, building on the steady progress of the last year.
Within the next few weeks, we expect to see the reintroduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act in the U.S. Congress, and we’ll be doing all that we can to secure its passage. You can add your voice to end animal testing for cosmetics in the U.S. by contacting your elected officials right now.
Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.