How The US Blocked The EU Ban On Animal Testing In Cosmetics

25th January 2016 / Editors Picks, United Kingdom

During the course of 1970’s and 80’s we saw a strong emergence of animal rights activists campaigning, significantly against live animal testing in cosmetics. Large cosmetics corporations were targeted with high profile actions covered in the news headlines in America and Europe leading to organisations such as Avon and Revlon eventually adopting fairly strong anti-animal testing policies that led directly to their products.

The media attention was fervent and widespread which led to some countries to start enforcing new laws on animal testing bans in cosmetics.

The testing ban in the EU applied in September 2004 was only on finished products giving millions of people the idea that animal testing on cosmetics had finished completely. In fact the ban did not extend to the individual ingredients that went into them. That ban did not come in until March 2009.

What was the point in banning the use of animal testing on the finished product but not on the ingredients – it’s still animal testing on cosmetics products? Well, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

As it turns out, the European Union wanted to ban the marketing of any cosmetic product that was tested on animals back in 1993. At the time, the EU clearly thought that this was the best way to stop animal testing on cosmetics by driving down sales, thereby forcing manufacturers to change their ways. The EU even gave the industry five years notice by way of the Cosmetics Directive that would ban this type of marketing by 1998.

The US authorities did not like this idea much and started pressuring the European Commission. The US strategy was to place the EU marketing ban on its list of trade barriers and then went ahead and threatened the EU with a formal complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EU commissioners caved in quickly thinking that European cosmetics industry would be badly hit internationally and changed its strategy to appease the Americans.

The consequence was that the ban was changed to make it sound as though the EU commissioners were doing something when in fact it was a ‘work-around’ that was very misleading.

They agreed to swap the marketing ban with a ban on animal testing within the borders of the EU.  This enabled US companies to continue marketing their products in the EU that had been tested on animals in the US.  At the same time this also allowed European companies to test their products outside the European Union and still be able to market them in their home countries.

The threat the US imposed upon the EU for daring to limit US manufacturers was worded like this; “If this ban goes into effect on that date it will not only dramatically discriminate against the EU industry but will also seriously impact trade between the US and the EU and could give rise to a potential trade complaint,” (October 1998).

During these years animal rights activists and the various high profile methods they adopted continued to get wide media coverage and politicians were balancing up trade issue with voters. In 2002 a rejuvenated and unified European ban was finally adopted on the grounds that the US had inappropriately interfered in its decision-making for the good of the people.

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However, it made concessions, namely that the marketing ban would be imposed but not until 2009 and that final animal testing in all areas of cosmetics manufacture would be banned in 2013.

To summarise then. The EU was going to legislate for good and proper reason against animal testing on cosmetic products and it was delayed by two decades after the first legislative decision was instigated and fifteen years after it was supposed to be implemented.

What we have here is a clear example of inappropriate and imperious bullying by the US of the EU purely for corporate profit, irrespective of the wishes of the people or democratic processes that existed.

As it turned out, the marketing ban in Europe had a profound effect in the USA as sales of cosmetics tested on animals slumped in favour of products free from animal testing and the industry itself in now calling for non-animal testing methods to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Within the TTIP negotiations, much abhorred by the general public, there is an agreement emerging called “regulatory cooperation”. The fifteen year delay to the marketing ban of cosmetics would never have happened, not would any animal testing ban as this  is exactly what this new agreement would have achieved. It is designed to bypasses democratic processes. It demonstrates how ‘regulatory cooperation’ decides what is best for corporations.

Corporate Observatory put this in context thus; “Regulatory cooperation (within TTIP) is not about finding ways to boost consumer rights. It is about making regulation more coherent, especially for transnational corporations, through liberalization or deregulation. And that, in turn, poses a series of threats to protective rules”.

The intended EU cosmetics ban is yet another example of how sovereign legislation has been overturned by American interference and that now, the unelected bureaucrats of the EU Commissioners have decided that democracy is now longer important.

Through the dismantling of regulatory differences between the different markets and countries in order to pursue profit, TTIP is essentially legally guaranteeing that transnational corporations outrank governments.

Graham Vanbergen –

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