Cosmetics and Animal Testing

In today’s New York Times, Doreen Carvajal reports that cosmetic companies are scrambling to come into compliance with a 2009 ban on the use of animal testing for cosmetics in the European Union. 27 member economies strong, the EU can pass such rules, and watch the industry innovate to reach the goal of more humane treatment of animals.

As the 2009 deadline approaches, European regulators issue periodic tallies of the number of laboratory animals potentially spared by alternatives to animal tests, across all kinds of industrial uses. Part of the pressure for alternatives also stems from additional legislation, known as Reach, requiring companies to develop safety data on 30,000 chemicals over the next 11 years — research that could raise the prospect of increased animal testing.

In fact, the actual number of animals tested for cosmetics is small compared with medical or educational uses, according to a new European Commission report. But from 2002 to 2005 the tally grew 50 percent in Europe, to 5,571 animals.

I’d be interested to hear whether Sciencebloggers think about this. Can alternative means be as effective as animal testing for the purpose of proving that cosmetics are not harmful, and if so, will be see these innovations applied in other areas of traditional science?