For the first time since 1998, the UK Home Office is reconsidering the ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

In a letter to Cruelty Free International, the government seems to be following the European Chemicals Agency’s lead: some cosmetic-only ingredients need to be tested on animals to ensure safety. Although maintaining that current UK animal testing laws still stand, campaigners forewarn this could lead to more animal tests in the future.

Huge backlash on returning to archaic animal tests

Traditional toxicity testing uses rodentsThe UK has long been the leader when it comes to cutting edge research and innovation of animal-free test methods. Choosing to reinstate outdated, unreliable animal tests is a disappointing and unnecessary step back. By using a combination of historic animal data and innovative animal-free approaches, such as cell-based tests and computer modelling, safety results are more human-relevant without the sacrifice of countless animal lives.

From a consumer’s point of view, regressing back to animal testing is an out of touch move, showing a lack of acknowledgement for present social attitudes. In a 2020 survey by FRAME, 84% of consumers would not buy a cosmetic product if they knew it, or one of its ingredients, had been tested on animals. This would surely have a huge impact on the cosmetic Industry. Dr Katy Taylor, Cruelty Free International’s Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs, explains “These are not tests that cosmetics companies want or feel the need to do to ensure the safety of consumers or workers or of our environment. They have worked hard over decades to create and invest significantly in a range of next generation, animal-free safety assessment tools which can be used instead.”

Government underestimating industry, charities and public

Dr Carol TreasureDr Carol Treasure, CEO of XCellR8 commented “To say this is disappointing is a massive understatement. The UK has historically played a leading role in both animal welfare and science, with an early ban in place for cosmetics testing in 1998 and instrumental in the later EU ban. Since Brexit, it seems all this is under threat.

But I still feel a hint of optimism today because the Government underestimates us all: industry, charities and, above all, the public. We achieved a ban in 1998, before we had all the advanced, human-relevant science now available to ensure cosmetics and other FMCGs are safer than ever. If we could do it then, we can do it now. We must show the government that the UK has a fantastic opportunity to shine as a world leader in science, technology, and animal welfare. There’s a spotlight on this now: we must act to bring innovation and positive change.”

For more information read the Guardian article and show your support by signing the petition.