EU agrees cosmetics animal testing ban from 2009
BRUSSELS - The European Union is set to ban most new cosmetics tested on animals from 2009 and stop their import into the bloc under a deal thrashed out by lawmakers and EU governments, officials said.
But animal rights groups remained angry that some tests, which they called the most harmful, would be allowed for longer.
\"The ban on testing of cosmetic products on animals within the EU is in itself a great win for animal welfare,\" Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a statement.
\"But to prevent import into the Community of products that are tested in third countries, it was also very important that agreement was reached on the ban on marketing,\" he added.
Many cosmetics, from hand creams to lipsticks and perfumes, are tested for a wide range of side effects. Some tests can be done in test tubes, but scientists often use animals to check for dangers such as cancer or allergic reaction.
Parliament and EU states had been split on when the ban should come into force and only reached agreement after a 12-hour session of talks. The deal must now be formally approved by the full European Parliament and member states.
New products tested on animals for which alternative tests are available will be banned six years after the law comes into force. This is expected next year, so the ban will be implemented from 2009.
\"Alternative ways of testing may be developed in the transition period to replace animal testing,\" the Danish EU presidency said in a statement.
Schmidt said the period before the ban comes into force should be used by all parties - industry, governments and research institutions - to find alternative testing methods and that the time limits would not be extended.
ANIMAL GROUPS STILL WORRIED
Liberal Democrat European Parliament member Chris Davies, one of parliament\'s negotiators, commented: \"For too long the cosmetics industry has dragged its feet and refused to make the commitment necessary to develop alternatives to animal testing.\"
Industry groups were not immediately available to comment.
Britain\'s Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was angry that the law will allow three of 14 tests used to continue until 2013, with a potential two-year extension.
\"There is definitely more bad than good,\" said Marlou Heinen, deputy head of the RSPCA\'s international department.
\"The problem is that these are the most painful tests that the animals have to endure,\" she added.
The tests are those where animals are fed ingredients to monitor their toxicity, the effect they have on the reproductive systems of animals and how the toxins spread through the body.
Some EU countries had been worried a ban would be seen by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a barrier to commerce and could be challenged by other states.
European Commission spokesman Per Haugaard said the EU executive, which drafted the legislation, was pleased. \"We feel that the solutions found are WTO-compatible,\" he said.
Story by Patrick Lannin
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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