Animal testing for cosmetics continues in India, as rabbits, mice and guinea pigs endure cosmetic chemicals being dropped into their eyes, even as it spreads on their sensitive skin. Other methods include force-feeding it to them in massive doses. In 2009, the European Union banned cosmetic testing on animals, and this year, the ban will extend to the sale of any products tested on animals. Humane Society International, with support from animal activists including Maneka Gandhi have been pressurising the Indian government to implement this ban, as per EU guidelines, with their Be Cruelty Free Campaign, which began last year.
“Through our campaign, we are working around the globe to create a world where animals no longer have to suffer. We are campaigning hard to ensure that the promised European ban on selling animal-tested cosmetics is enforced without delay; we’re reaching out to legislators and regulators to achieve lasting progress for animals,” says Jayasimha N, Director, Humane Society International.
Maneka Gandhi who formed the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision (CPCSEA) in the 1990s has been campaigning for animals rights for the last 20 years. “I formed CPCSEA to regulate experimentation that was unchecked, irrelevant and done for money. So, first dissection in schools was stopped; then, Zoology in colleges. We have been working hard to stop dissection in cosmetic testing for a long time,” Gandhi explains, adding, “Thousands of animals are affected needlessly since all ingredients in cosmetics are already validated many times over. To cite an example: Till I banned it, it was compulsory for injection needles to be tested on rabbits — this law was created when needles were made by hand, over 70 years ago, but no one had repealed it. Similarly, most testing mechanisms are outdated.”
Why India matters
Jayasimha believes that the world is shrinking and harmonisation of laws, globally is necessary. “India is a huge market for cosmetics. When sale of such products is banned in Europe, it may open up the market in India and China,” he asserts. The case has been presented to the Drug Controller with the hope that the ban is effected in India, soon. “It can be made effective even in a few months time,” he says.
So, does the ban of such testing compromise on the safety of the product? Jayasimha’s reply is a big no — “A long list of internationally accepted ingredients are considered safe. Companies can assure the safety of their products by using ingredients with a long history of safe use, with a growing number of proven, non-animal safety tests. This is the approach followed by nearly 400 certified, cruelty-free companies. It is not a question of safety but that of changing the mindset of the inspector,” he iterates.
Cosmetic brand Oriflame supports this cause. Sharmili Rajput, Marketing Director, Oriflame India says, “Oriflame offers natural Swedish cosmetics based on stringent quality norms. These products are environment-friendly and are not tested on animals. Oriflame has also won the PETA Award for best ethical and progressive brand. Respect for people and nature underlines the company’s operating principles and are reflected in its social and environmental policies.” MiD DAY’s repeated attempts over many days to connect with most Indian and International brands including L’Oreal, Lakme and Neutrogena,
for their views, did not meet with any success.