Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Long Overdue

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Long Overdue

As published in the Victoria Standard: May 8, 2019

There is no justification for testing cosmetics on mice, rabbits or other animals. I’ve seen video footage of this cruelty and the unsettling images linger in my memory. Thankfully, some Canadian politicians are prepared to legislate against animal testing in cosmetic research. The law would mainly apply to the importation of animal-tested cosmetics since only a tiny percentage of Canadian animal testing is conducted for non-medical research.

Bill S-214, The Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, received Senate approval back in February, 2018 after its introduction by Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen with help from Canadian animal advocates. The bill, which also involves amendments to the Food and Drugs Act, is now being sponsored by Conservative MP Marilyn Gladhu. While Bill S-214 is currently under consideration in the House of Commons, its prospects are uncertain.

No legislative action on cosmetic animal testing occurred under Harper’s Conservatives and Trudeau’s Liberals seem equally indifferent to animal issues. According to Marilyn Gladhu, Bill S-214’s passage remains problematic as it has already been trumped by opposition attention to the SNC Lavelin scandal. As well, Gladhu is concerned about the approaching end of the current parliamentary session and the distraction of the upcoming election.

As well, Bill S-214 concerns only cosmetics and will not apply to the importation or domestic manufacture of others products developed with animal testing such as weapons, cleaning agents and pharmaceuticals. As well, the Bill offers exemptions if manufacturers claim to have exhausted other testing methods and will be only take effect gradually over four years.

Meanwhile, cosmetic animal testing has been banned in the European Union, India, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Guatemala, and Australia and the governments of the United States, Brazil, Chile, South Africa and Sri Lanka are considering similar legislation.

Testing cosmetics and other products on animals involves causes them immense suffering. For example, prospective cosmetic ingredients are dripped into the eyes of rabbits to determine their possible effect on human beings. The animals endure the misery of burning irritation and ultimate blindness before being euthanized.

As well, mice and rabbits endure the pain of having chemicals applied to their shaved skin for the same reasons. Perhaps worse is the behaviour of caged test animals like rabbits who actually fracture their own bones during frenzied escape efforts. The horror of this scenario is hard to comprehend.

Testing cosmetics on animals is now more unnecessary than ever, since practical and cheaper alternatives exist. Beyond that, manufacturers can currently access a long list of established cosmetic ingredients and products that require no testing. Researchers may now employ genetically-engineered human tissue for in vitro (test tube) experiments, high-speed computer models and robotics to test the effects of the over 100,000 commercial chemicals available worldwide. These breakthroughs also assist medical research of benefit to human medicine and veterinary science.

Therefore, no cosmetic manufacturer need continue animal testing to profit from human vanity.
Avon, Benefit, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Victoria’s Secret and Maybelline conduct animal testing on cosmetic products imported to Canada. The Body Shop, Lush, Kat Von D Beauty and Canadian firms Lippy Girl and Trust fund Beauty are among those profitable companies who refuse to be involved in animal testing of any kind. All cosmetic product exports to China as well as those manufactured in that country must be tested on animals but the Chinese government is taking steps to eliminate that requirement.

Cosmetics Alliance Canada (CAC), the industry’s main lobby group, claims to generally support Bill S-214 but during Senate committee meetings, suggested that cosmetic animal testing rules be included in Health Canada’s ongoing reform of “self-care” regulations that governs products like cosmetics. While not exactly a contradiction, CAC’s specific support for enhanced Health Canada regulations falls short directly advocating for Criminal Code amendments. CAC didn’t not respond to a request for clarification.

In spite of these challenges, international trends indicate that Canada will eventually join those nations who have banned the ugly practice of manufacturing or importing cosmetic developed with animal testing. Unfortunately, test animals will continue to suffer and die needlessly while bureaucrats and lobbyists pursue their agendas.