BEIJING––Effective on June 1, 2014 China will no longer require that cosmetics, shampoos, and perfumes be tested on animals, the China Food & Drug Administration announced on November 5, 2013.
Instead of having to submit products to CFDA laboratories for testing, Chinese manufacturers will be allowed to submit the product safety data compiled to demonstrate the safety of raw ingredients, which may include data from past animal testing. Alternatively, the manufacturers may submit the data from non-animal safety testing methods accepted by the 27-nation European Union.
The policy change will initially apply only to products made within China, but may be extended later to imported products.
Word of the Chinese policy change reached the west on November 8, 2013 via Humane Society International. HSI is the global arm of the Humane Society of the U.S. The HSI “Be Cruelty-Free China” campaign and the Human Toxicology Project consortium at the same time announced an $80,000 grant to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to train Chinese regulators and scientists to do non-animal product safety testing.
“We will meet with Beijing officials in the coming days to look closely at the detail of this cosmetics announcement, but it looks like there could at last be a bright future for cruelty-free companies in China and hope on the horizon for an end to cosmetics cruelty,” said Be Cruelty-Free director Troy Seidle.
HSI campaigns parallel to Be Cruelty-Free China are underway in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Russia, and South Korea.
The European Union completed a 15-year phase-out of animal testing requirements for cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients on March 11, 2013. India banned animal testing of domestically produced cosmetics in June. China was among the last major markets for cosmetics and personal care produces that continued to require animal testing.
HSUS president Wayne Pacelle welcomed the CFDA decision to end mandatory animal testing of cosmetics and personal care products made in China, but emphasized the need to “make sure that those regulations are expanded to apply to foreign companies as well. This would enable cruelty-free companies worldwide to sell their products in the Chinese market without compromising their ‘no animal testing’ policies.”
The Leaping Bunny cruelty-free cosmetics certification program, administered in the United Kingdom by the British Union Against Vivisection, and in the U.S. by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, and a similar certification program managed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have both lost corporate participants in recent years because the companies wanted to sell products in China.
The 1.3 billion Chinese people, nearly 20% of the world’s population, spent $24 billion on personal care and cosmetic products in 2012, about 18% of the global total. The Chinese personal care and cosmetic product market is projected to grow to $34 billion by 2015.
India has 1.1 billion people, but the Indian market for cosmetics and personal care products, though growing at 13% per year in the present decade, is worth barely $8 billion a year.
The Bureau of Indian Standards voted unanimously on June 28, 2013 to discontinue animal testing requirements for cosmetic products, consistent with European Union policy. In place of animal testing, India now requires manufacturers to use the EU-approved tests.
The Indian policy change was also pushed by HIS, with the endorsements of both former prime minister Sonia Gandhi, representing the secular Congress Party, and her ex-sister-in-law, former federal minister for animal welfare Maneka Gandhi, who is affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Bharatijia Janata Dal party.
Testing on humans
The Bureau of Indian Standards acted amid a hue-and-cry for general revision of the 2007 Drugs & Cosmetics Amendment, which encouraged more use of human subjects in product safety testing. Government data released in April 2013 showed that as many as 2,644 people had died since 2005 during clinical trials of 475 new drugs, only 17 of which were eventually approved for marketing in India.
“Eighty deaths were found to be attributable to the clinical trials,” said health secretary Keshav Desiraju in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court of India. “Around 11,972 serious adverse events, excluding death, were reported during the period from January 1, 2005 to June 30, 2012, out of which 506 events were found to be related to clinical trials,” Desiraju added.
(November 20, 2013)