WRITTEN QUESTION No. 1385/98 by Cristiana MUSCARDINI to the Commission. Ending cosmetic tests on animals
OJ C 402, 22.12.1998, p. 123 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-1385/98
by Cristiana Muscardini (NI) to the Commission
(7 May 1998)
Subject: Ending cosmetic tests on animals
Eight years of hard and apparently successful work have been undermined by the Commission's decision to delay until the year 2000 the entry into force of the directive approved by the European Parliament which would have banned cosmetic tests on animals with effect from January 1998.
The Commission cannot overlook the fact that the torture practised on animals is both cruel and in this case utterly pointless, since all cosmetic industries now have alternative tests available.
The Commission must be aware that this kind of approach will result in rights being brushed aside in favour of economic interests in Europe, a situation which cannot be allowed to prevail.
Will the Commission therefore takes steps to review its decision on the entry into force of the directive banning cosmetic tests on animals?
Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission
(18 June 1998)
The Commission remains fully committed to ending at the earliest possible opportunity the need for animal tests in compliance with the requirements of Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products(1). The key to solving this problem is the development and independent scientific validation of non-animal tests and testing strategies which can be convincingly shown to be at least as relevant and reliable as a means of identifying potential harmful chemicals and products as are the animal tests that they will replace.
This development and validation process has been found to be more difficult and more complex than had been anticipated, although some progress is being achieved in relation to skin penetration, skin corrosivity, skin irritation, phototoxicity and mutagenicity. There is also hope that fundamental difficulties concerning testing for skin sensitisation and eye irritation will be overcome in the not too distant future.
The amount of collaboration which is already under way, involving the cosmetic industry, government and academic laboratories, the animal welfare movement and the Commission, in the efforts to replace animal testing for cosmetic purposes, is unparalleled in any other field.
During the last twenty years, the amount of animal testing carried out for cosmetic purposes has fallen dramatically, especially in Europe and the United States. This is partly due to successful attempts to avoid any testing which would now be considered unnecessary, and partly due to the use of computer programmes and in vitro tests to screen for hazardous materials before any animal testing is considered. As a result, many of the remaining animal tests which are considered necessary at the moment, are conducted to confirm a lack of toxic effects. Therefore, the use of words such as "torture", "cruel", and "pointless" is not justified.
The decision to delay the prohibition of animal testing for the purposes of Directive 76/768/EEC was not related to economic interests, but was taken entirely because of the Commission's duty to take into account the principal purpose of this Directive, that is, the protection of public health.
(1) OJ L 262, 27.9.1976.