Last week I was proud to introduce H.R. 4148, the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would end the use of animal testing for cosmetics products made in the U.S. and phase out the sale of all cosmetics tested on animals, regardless of the country in which they were produced.
Before reaching store shelves, cosmetics companies have to prove their products are safe for U.S. consumers, whether skin cream, perfume, lipstick, nail polish, etc. Unfortunately, that means every year, thousands of animals that families routinely keep as pets – rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice - are subjected to inhumane abuses in the name of beauty. While cheaper and more effective alternatives to animal testing exist, the U.S. has failed to keep up with rest of the world by continuing to allow animal testing.
Safety testing using animals is inherently cruel as animals are intentionally subjected to extraordinary abuses. Skin and eye irritant tests include rubbing chemicals on shaved skin or dripping it into the eyes of restrained rabbits. Repeated force feeding studies are common ways to look for general illnesses or specific health hazards. And widely condemned "lethal dose" tests force animals to swallow large amounts of chemicals to determine the fatal amount.
Sadly, these tests are unnecessary and don't compute with modern science. Even worse, more functional, less expensive alternatives exist. Results from animal tests aren't always relevant to humans and can over or under estimate the real world hazards to people. Outdated and unreliable animal tests undermine claims of safety for consumers. Scientifically sound, non-animal alternatives, using human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models to deliver human-relevant results offer us a better path forward.
At the same time, U.S. companies stand to lose money if they can't sell their products in the growing number of countries that have banned imports on animal tested cosmetics. Last year the European Union created the world's largest cruelty free cosmetic marketplace by banning animal testing for cosmetic products while also banning the sale of any cosmetics tested on animals. Similar bans have already been enacted in Israel, India, and Norway. Brazil is moving in that direction. The time has come for the U.S. to join this movement, or be left behind.
American consumers are supportive of this transition; a 2013 public opinion poll found that 73 percent favored legislation that would phase out animal testing for cosmetic products. I will continue to press my colleagues to support the Humane Cosmetics Act. It's the right thing to do for animals, science, and consumer safety.