The European Union is set to ban the sale of cosmetics and personal-care products that were tested on animals (or contain ingredients that were). The ban goes into effect on March 11, and it will have major implications for the global cosmetics industry.
The path to this ban was not smooth or uncontroversial. The European Parliament, after a decade of campaigning and contentious discussion, first voted to institute a ban on animal testing in 2003, which was set to go into effect in 2009. But that didn't happen; industry successfully lobbied to delay the ban until 2013. Some companies had anticipated a further delay in the implementation of the law, but Tonio Borg, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, says he is "not planning to propose a postponement or derogation to the ban."
Opponents of animal testing, including the Body Shop and the advocacy group Cruelty Free International, are hailing the ban, calling it "truly an historic event." Body Shop spokesperson Paul McGreevy says, "This great achievement in Europe is only the closure of one chapter. The future of beauty must be cruelty free."
There is no ban on animal testing of cosmetics or their ingredients in the U.S. — in fact, the wealthy personal-care product lobby has successfully fought even basic regulation of their products' safety, last year defeating a bill that would have given the F.D.A. some oversight of personal-care products. Instituting a ban at the legislative level in the U.S. certainly seems unlikely given that anti-regulation, let-businesses-be-people climate. But given that all of the world's major cosmetics companies will now have to forswear all animal testing in order to sell their products in the 27 member nations of the European Union — a major chunk of the world's beauty market — one effect of the new ban may be fewer animal tested products on American drug store shelves.