Your guide to natural and organic living

Animal testing alternatives update

September 15, 2009

Animal testing has been almost eradicated from Cosmetics in the EU since the deadline in March this year when the sale of any animal tested cosmetic product and it’s ingredients was outlawed.

While this is very good news, only 4/7 categories have validated alternatives where animal testing is no longer permitted.

At present, it is illegal to use animals to test for skin irritancy, phototoxicity, corrosivity, percutaneous absorption, genotoxicity, ocular irritancy and acute toxicity.

In 2013 when the total ban is in place, another 8 tests will join the list: carcinogenicity, photoallergy, cutaneous allergy, toxicokinetics, reprotoxicity, teratogenesis, toxicity – sub chronic and chronic, and photomutagenesis.

In the last few days, the EU has agreed to match Colipa’s €25m funds (bringing the total to €50m) to develop techniques that remove the need to test on animals. It is hoped that these methods will be cheaper and faster than traditional animal testing routes and provide a higher predictive value (e.g. the probability of an allergic reaction).

Copila say:

“The call for proposals focuses on ‘repeated dose systemic toxicity’. It is about predicting the toxicity of the repeated use, over a long period of time, of substances including those that are mainly used in cosmetic products. Any substance used in a cosmetic product on the market today has been tested at some point to make sure that it does not cause harm to consumers. Despite the significant progress made on non-animal test methods, there are still gaps in scientific knowledge that need to be filled in order to further reduce the use of animals in safety tests, while continuing to guarantee the safety of cosmetic products”.

This research will be based upon the ‘3Rs Principle’ – Replacing, Reducing and Refining animal testing. The key areas of research will include:

  • Development of organ-simulating devices
  • Use of human-based target cells
  • Definition of new toxicological endpoints and intermediate markers
  • Computational modelling techniques
  • Exploitation of approaches developed in systems biology; and
  • Integrated data analysis and scientific services

This research will hopefully bring us a step closer to the total animal testing ban in 2013.


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