Ban on animal testing in the cosmetics sector

16 April 2013    
Marc Tarabella (S&D)

The EU’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics enters into force today. This decision has rightly been welcomed by a majority in Parliament. This ban is in line with what many EU citizens firmly believe: that the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing.

The main complaint of the cosmetics industry is, and I quote, ‘that science is not yet ready to bridge existing knowledge gaps and that non-animal alternatives cannot address all ingredient safety questions’, and that ‘[f]urthermore, the ban acts as a brake on innovation for the European cosmetics industry while achieving little to improve global animal welfare.’

The EU plans to fund the development of alternative methods to animal testing. USD 309 million have already been channelled into such development between 2007 and 2011.

1. What results have these initial investments had and what has been achieved?

2. What alternatives does the Commission have in mind or, at least, what possibilities have been explored?


4 June 2013    
Answer given by Ms Geoghegan-Quinn on behalf of the Commission

Research into alternative methods funded through the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (FP7, 2007-2013) aims to address the important knowledge gaps in the field, namely the lack of basic scientific knowledge in toxicological and biomedical sciences. Such knowledge is essential to be able to ascertain with confidence all possible adverse effects that a chemical could have on an organism and thus to be able to properly assess the validity of alternative testing methods.

This research also has the objective of developing potential new animal-free testing methods, based on ‘omics’ technologies, systems biology and computational approaches, and in vitro (cell based) test systems. A current example of such research under FP7 is the public-private consortium SEURAT-1(1). The key aspect of the validation of alternative methods is closely followed by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) of the Commission's Joint Research Centre. Further details on results and current progress in EU-supported projects are available at the website of the EU coordination action AXLR8(2). EU-supported research has produced a large body of scientific knowledge, which has been published in mainstream scientific journals.

The Commission proposal for Horizon 2020 — the framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020), envisages further support for the development of methods for better human safety testing, including alternatives to animal testing.(3) At this stage of the legislative process, however, it is not possible to predict the possible allocation of funds to this area of research.