It’s hard to think about the cruelty of cosmetics testing on animals, but we cannot shy away from the realities. The experiments often hurt rabbits, hamsters, mice, rats, and guinea pigs, all to make many cosmetics brands. Thankfully, a growing number of brands are choosing cruelty-free testing methods. And the rest will have no choice but to follow suit, at least in Canada, as the government will introduce legislation banning cosmetics animal testing across the country. The timeline? Likely by next year, explains Monica Engebretson, Head of Public Affairs in North America for Cruelty Free International.
The news: Upcoming cosmetics animal testing ban for Canada
Last month, the Canadian government published its Notice of Ways and Means Motion, which held the pending Budget Implementation Act. It included measures to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals in Canada.
It also prohibits the sale of cosmetics that rely on new animal testing data to determine their efficacy and false or misleading claims related to animal testing of cosmetics. Animal welfare advocates Human Society International/Canada, Animal Alliance Canada, Cruelty Free International, Cosmetics Alliance Canada, Lush Cosmetics, and The Body Shop have worked closely with the Canadian government for several years to advance legislation. Now, it is likely to finally happen.
To find out more about the impact of the news, I asked Monica Engebretson, the North American Campaign Head of Public Affairs for Cruelty Free International, some questions.
Q&A with Monica Engebretson of Cruelty Free International
Of course, I started with the main question on my mind. Why has it taken so long for this type of legislation in Canada?
Monica, why is this groundbreaking legislation only coming to the table now? What has taken so long in Canada, and is cosmetics animal testing still allowed in many other countries?
That’s a good question. We have known for a long time that it is a move that Canadian consumers want and is supported broadly across party lines. However, the devil is in the detail, so it took time from a policy-making perspective to ensure that the proposed restrictions were workable in the Canadian regulatory framework and that there was some agreement between industry and advocates. Another factor was getting the issue to be considered amongst all of the other issues that are worthy of attention.
Animal testing for cosmetics has been restricted or banned in over 40 counties. These include the 27 member countries of the European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Australia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Brazil. We have also been successful in passing restrictions in 10 US States. So that leaves much of the world still open to animal testing. The key is to drive animal testing out of the most significant markets and to harmonize regulations around the world so that we don’t just move animal testing around the globe.
When can we look forward to changes taking effect here in Canada in the cosmetics industry? Is there a timeline?
By next year. The provisions have been included in the Government’s budget bill, so it is almost guaranteed to pass. The budget should be passed by the Summer. The bill stipulates that the changes will officially come into force six months after royal assent.
Rather than testing on animals, what are other ways for companies to test cosmetics?
Non-animal methods include tests that use tissues and cells from humans and sophisticated computer models. Such tests are often cheaper, faster, and more predictive for humans than the animal tests that they replace.
Many of the now antiquated animal tests were first developed over 70 years ago when product testing was in its infancy. Transferring the results of animal tests to humans can be problematic and misleading in many cases, so the more modern tests are better for consumers and animals.
A few last words from Monica Engebretson
I want to thank everyone who took part over the past decade that we’ve been campaigning for this change. To everyone who signed a petition or wrote to their Member of Parliament asking for Canada to end animal testing for cosmetics – this would not have been possible without that outpouring of support.
Takeaway on the animal testing ban on cosmetics in Canada
This is big news for animal protection! I look forward to when the legislation passes here in Canada.
Wherever we live, let’s continue supporting beauty brands that don’t test on animals. Every life matters! The next time you buy makeup, skincare, haircare, or toiletries, look for the cruelty-free bunny logo on the product. It is an internationally recognized sign that no animal was tested on at any point in manufacturing.
Top photo courtesy of Monica Engebretson