Legislation Banning Cosmetics Animal Testing Passes in California—and Is Introduced in Colombia

Already banned in the European Union, big strides in banning cosmetics animal testing in California and Colombia are currently being made.

On Friday, August 31, a proposal was passed in the California Legislature that would impose the nation’s strictest laws on animal testing for cosmetics. Specifically, Senate Bill 1249 would make California the first state to completely ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. It would apply animal testing of a cosmetic or its ingredients conducted after 2019, although it would also allow exceptions to comply with Food and Drug Administration or foreign agency requirements.

In its final days, legislators amended SB 1249 to narrow its scope, focusing only on animal testing conducted by the cosmetic manufacturer or suppliers. The earlier version applied even when the group conducting the animal testing was unrelated to the cosmetics company, which was too broad and created significant opposition. “The supply-chain focus has helped to remove the majority of significant opposition,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton).

After the changes were made, the Personal Care Products Council, which previously opposed the bill, offered its support. Other supporters included animal rights groups, celebrities and more than 6,500 Californians who wrote to their legislators in favor of the bill.

Supporters hoped the bill would have national and international impact. “I think it’s a huge statement that we’re making as a state, and given the size of our market I’m hoping that it will move the global conversation on the use of animals in testing for cosmetics,” said assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose).

Apparently, the bill's consideration was already having an international impact. For the first time, a Latin American bill seeking to end the use of animals in cosmetics testing was introduced in the Colombian Congress on Wednesday, August 29. Championed by Animal Defenders International (ADI), if passed, Colombia would join California and roughly 40 countries worldwide that have made cosmetics animal testing illegal.

Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International, said, “Colombia is taking its first steps to becoming a leader in Latin America and banning cosmetics testing on animals. With advanced alternatives available and already in use around the world, this historic bill should pass at the earliest opportunity.”

Specifically, the legislation would ban the use of animals in testing cosmetics products and their ingredients—manufactured and imported into the country—and would go into effect 12 months after being passed.

Author of the bill (number 120 of 2018), the house representative Juan Carlos Losada, said, “The main purpose of the bill is to stop animal suffering in the cosmetics industry and enable Colombian companies to enter the European market, a region that has for years rejected such tests.”

In the US, The Humane Cosmetics Act also seeks to phase out animal testing for cosmetics—and the sale and transport of such products. Nearly 40 countries have ended cosmetics animal testing, including the UK, the first country to introduce a ban in 1998; as well as India, Israel, New Zealand and the EU. In May 2018, members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for a worldwide ban by 2023. ADI is urging the Colombian Congress to lead the way in Latin America by becoming the first to adopt a nationwide ban.

Cosmetics tests on animals often involves cruelty. They may involve repeat dose toxicity tests to observe chronic, long-term effects on organs. Animals may be forced to inhale products, have them pumped down their throats or applied to their skin. To assess potential allergic reactions to skin from substances, researchers may deliberately cause painful damage to the animals’ skin.

Investigations undertaken by ADI, which has offices in Bogota, Los Angeles, and London, have revealed torment endured by animals in cosmetics testing. Advanced, non-animal testing is available that avoids the fundamental differences between species in their reaction to substances and misleading results from animal models.

On an international level, regulatory agencies, governments and funding bodies are encouraging a shift away from animal testing.

For more information, visit ad-international.org.