WRITTEN QUESTION No. 2043/98 by Nikitas KAKLAMANIS to the Commission. Testing of cosmetic products on animals
OJ C 96, 8.4.1999, p. 27 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-2043/98
by Nikitas Kaklamanis (UPE) to the Commission
(7 July 1998)
Subject: Testing of cosmetic products on animals
In a quite incomprehensible move, the Commission has postponed the entry into force of a directive banning animal testing for cosmetics until 2000. This directive which provided for a ban on the testing of cosmetic products on animals from January 1998 has already been approved by the European Parliament. This is an extremely grave matter as animals are subjected to great suffering, and there are good grounds for questioning the utility of this suffering, since the cosmetics industry now has alternative testing methods.
Will the Commission say why the entry into force of the directive in question has been deferred and what alternative measures it has taken to prevent the continuing sadistic treatment of animals at the hands of the cosmetics industry?
Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission
(21 September 1998)
The sixth amendment of the Cosmetics Directive (Council Directive 93/35/EC of 14 June 1993 amending for the sixth time Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products(1)) foresaw a prohibition of the marketing of cosmetic products containing ingredients or combinations of ingredients tested on animals after 1 January 1998. However, the Directive also stressed the need to offer the consumer a degree of protection equivalent to that obtained by animal experiments, and it invited the Commission to propose a postponement of this deadline if alternative methods had not been developed and legally accepted.
Following a thorough review of the status of alternative methods, the Commission put forward a postponement of the implementation of the ban. The primary reason for this was that the main objective of Council Directive 76/768/EEC on cosmetic products(2) is to protect public health and it is therefore indispensable to carry out certain toxicological tests to evaluate the safety for human health of ingredients and combinations of ingredients used in cosmetic product formulations. The development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods proved to be an extremely complex scientific challenge. In particular, the timetable for the various stages of the development and validation process had previously been underestimated. Significant progress had been made in research into alternative methods to animal testing, particularly in the end-points relevant to cosmetic products. However, no alternative testing methods had been scientifically validated and the Organisation for economic cooperation and development had not adopted guidelines for any toxicity tests using non-animal methods.
Whilst it was not possible to foresee the date by which alternative methods for testing ingredients and combinations of ingredients for risk to human health would become available for all toxic end-points, it was equally important not to delay the timings for scientific reassessment of the situation. Therefore, Commission Directive 97/18/EC of 17 April 1997(3), postponed the ban on animal testing of cosmetics and their combinations until 30 June 2000. Most importantly, the publication of this Directive in no way prejudiced the objective of reducing the number of test animals and their suffering. In this respect, the Commission committed itself to the promotion of research and validation of alternative methods. The Commission continues to fund a variety of research programmes into the development of alternative methods to animal testing as well as leading validation efforts through the work of the European centre for the validation of alternative methods (ECVAM).
A small amount of animal testing continues within the cosmetics sector, to safeguard consumer safety, but such testing must be carried out under the provisions of Council Directive 86/609/EEC of 24 November 1986(4) on the protection of animals used in experimental and other scientific purposes. This Directive aims to reduce testing to a minimum, and to ensure adequate care and that any suffering, where unavoidable, is kept to a minimum.
(1) OJ L 151, 23.6.1993.
(2) OJ L 262, 27.9.1976.
(3) OJ L 114, 1.5.1997.
(4) OJ L 358, 18.12.1986.