Posted by Monica Engebretson on 5th July 2018
Is Canada becoming the North American Leader in Ending Animal Testing for Cosmetics?
Amidst all the focus on trade between the US and Canada and the European Union, one issue tends to be overlooked in the media but is overwhelmingly agreed on by consumers across international boundaries – ending animal testing for cosmetics.
Canada now has a real opportunity to become the North American leader on this issue following the successful Senate passage of S-214 - the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act authored by Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen. The bill seeks to amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit cosmetics animal testing in Canada and prohibit the sale of new animal tested cosmetics in the country. The bill now heads to the House of Commons where debate on the bill can begin this Fall.
Canada has moved ahead of the United States in pursuing a national ban on cosmetic testing on animals. While the US Humane Cosmetics Act has 172 bipartisan cosponsors it has yet to have its first hearing. Slow movement at the federal level has inspired individual states such as Hawaii, New York and California to introduce legislation aimed at phasing out the sale of animal tested cosmetics at the state level.
By ending the sale of animal tested cosmetics at a national level, Canada could be the first North American country to harmonize regulations with the European Union which prohibited the testing and sale of animal tested cosmetics five years ago.
Canadian companies must already comply with a no-new-animal testing requirement to sell cosmetics products in the European Union (one of the largest cosmetics markets in the world) as well as the European states that make up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. In 2013, the EU was Canada’s second most important trading partner with trade worth $33.2 billion (source: European Commission).
Moreover, on 21st September 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU came provisionally into force pending parliamentary ratifications. This is a new opportunity for both Canadian and European exporters – including those involved in cosmetics – as tariffs are reduced and removed. Cosmetics products and their ingredients entering Canada from the EU will not have been subject to new animal testing. Likewise, Canadian cosmetics exported to the EU will have to abide by the EU Cosmetics Regulations on animal testing.
While most cosmetics sold in Canada are imported from the United States, most, if not all, US cosmetic companies that sell products in Canada also sell products in the European Union. So, if US companies can comply with a no-new-animal testing requirement for European consumers, they should be able to do the same for Canadian consumers. And Canadians overwhelmingly support a cruelty free cosmetics marketplace.
In May, Cruelty Free International and The Body Shop made history with the delivery of a petition containing over 630,000 signatures in support of a ban on cosmetic animal testing - the largest petition delivered to Parliament in over 70 years. This exceeds the number of signatures gathered in favour of the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1949 which was submitted with 625,510 names.
The Body Shop is a perfect example of a company that, for over 30 years, has consistently produced high quality and innovative products without relying on animal testing. In addition, their campaign with Cruelty Free International has secured nearly seven million petition signatures from their global customer base, supporting a call for a global ban on animal testing.
Swift passage of the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act by the House of Commons would benefit industry, consumers and animals and it would make Canada the North American leader in aligning cosmetics policy with modern science, consumer demand and global trends.