The animal testing ban: what’s next?

Dr. Annelie Struessmann, Technical Director, CONUSBAT, 19 February 2014 12:00

The Animal Testing Ban
The full day workshop at this year’s In-Cosmetics in Hamburg tries to give answers towards new paths to apply in safety assessment of cosmetic products and their ingredients which are assuring ongoing innovation under the Animal Testing Ban. For this goal, engaged, sector specialized speakers from various countries and backgrounds were invited and will hopefully meet an active audience which is raising numerous questions and will engage into lively discussions.

March 11, 2013 marked the deadline for the final implementation of the animal testing ban in the European Union. The last step for the ban applied to marketing of cosmetic products and their ingredients when tested on animals for the most complex human health effects, ‘repeated-dose systemic toxicity, skin sensitization, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics’. In a Communication at implementation date the EU Commissions stated, ‘The testing and marketing bans in the Cosmetics Regulation apply even in case alternative methods to animal testing are not yet available’.

On that day, the news made it even into the New York Times, the United States’ most popular and prestigious newspaper. Aside of providing its readers with the facts on the ban, the newspaper was citing global cosmetics manufacturers, saying, that increasing efforts exist in the companies seeking global acceptance for products with prove of safety not relying on animal tests. However, the NY Times also cited representatives of the European cosmetics industry, who were criticizing the EU Commission for putting a ban into effect before alternatives existed for some of the most complex tests. As such, these representatives were contributing to a controversial discussion about implementing the ban which, in their view, would mean jeopardizing the cosmetic industry’s ability towards innovation. Accordingly, consumers in Europe would not have access to new products because the industry cannot assure the safety for some of the ingredients without having access to suitable and adequate testing.

From all ranges of opinions, the controversy has been further stirred by bringing forward additional aspects. As such, points made up against the ban include that it only covers the cosmetic industry, where the use of animals for experimental and other scientific purposes is minuscule compared to other industries. Whereas, the key points made pro animal testing ban are protection and welfare of animals and also, that limited and inaccurate results are gained as the body systems of animals are different from those of human beings. Also pro ban is the position that once implemented for cosmetics it may act as accelerator for other industries in the development of novel approaches.

While the discussions are often emotional and narrowed in objectivity and while, without any doubts, hurdles have to be overcome, it is often overlooked how many impressive results, based on extensive efforts being put into research of alternatives, were obtained in the past years in this fairly youthful science area of human toxicology. The reasons may be lying in the fact of the novelty of the science area. Therefore, for an outsider it is difficult to verge on to the basic principles and the methods in all their detailed aspects. Also, time and effort is required to comprehend the new, technology driven scientific approaches and the sector specific terminology. Yet, the research in this field has led to an array of new in-silico, in-chemico and in-vitro methods. Also, tools for new multi-tiered testing strategies were designed which are based on the awareness that one alternative test cannot cover the complexity of human biochemical mechanisms. Presenting key results obtained from past year’s research and depicting strategies for assessing cosmetics by alternative approaches is the goal for the regulatory workshop in Hamburg.

Dr. Annelie Struessmann will be presenting a two-part workshop entitled ‘The Animal Testing Ban: What’s next?’ Part 1 and Part 2 at in-cosmetics in Hamburg on Tuesday 1 April 2014 from 9:00am.

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