25 years ago in response to public pressure concerning animal welfare in the cosmetics industry a ban on cosmetic testing on animals was introduced. The text of that motion:
That this House welcomes the ban on cosmetic testing on animals which was confirmed by the Home Office on 16th November; notes that this ban prevents the testing of finished cosmetic products, but, more importantly, now includes a ban on the testing of ingredients; congratulates the Government and companies which have voluntarily agreed to give up their licences; and hopes that the Government will invest in projects to find an alternative to the use of animals in scientific research in the future.
It seems clear that the idea was to improve animal welfare by preventing animal testing being carried out in the development of cosmetics.
It is in the news that the UK does allows animal testing for cosmetics when that is to ensure the safety of workers., and have for some time. The example given is homosalate, a common sunscreen ingredient and used in many foundations and skincare products. From my brief reading we can determine that homosalate is not biologically active at the levels a consumer is exposed to, but it may have a cancer causing effect at levels workers are exposed to. Animal testing is required to further examine this effect if the chemical is to be produced in the EU.
My understanding of the law is that if the biological effect was at the levels a consumer is exposed to the product would not be allowed to be used as a cosmetic. The reason for this is to stop animals suffering for us to have access to cosmetics. However because the biological effect is at levels workers are exposed to animal testing is fine and we get access to these cosmetics. Presumably the former has happened many times over the last 25 years, new chemicals have been developed for cosmetics and they are not allowed in the UK because of the animal testing requirement.
I do not see the logic here. If the law is to protect the animals, the effect on the animals and the alternative remedy is the same whether the testing is for the consumer or the worker, why is the law so radically different? There does seem to be an obvious problem with access to a product required for suncream, but there is the obvious solution of classing sun cream as health and safety equipment or a medicine and therefore not covered by the ban.