France Fails In Initial Effort to Overturn European Union Ban on Cosmetics Testing

In March, the Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice rejected an appeal by France to overturn a planned Europe-wide ban on cosmetics testing with animals that is scheduled to take effect in 2009.

France is home to a large cosmetics industry and claims that the ban would violate international trade agreements since it not only bans cosmetics testing on animals within the European Union, but also bans the import of cosmetics from outside the European Union that have been tested on animals.

France will appeal further and a final decision one way or another isn’t expected until later this year.

According to the Press Association, about 38,000 animals are used annually in cosmetics-related testing.


French challenge to animal cosmetics test ban fails. Geoff Meade, Press Association, March 17, 2005.

Animal Aid and Others Call for Boycott of Botox

Animal rights groups in the UK recently discovered that every batch of Botox — the anti-wrinkle treatment that uses the botulinum toxin — is tested on mice to ensure its safety. UK animal rights group Animal Aid is calling for a boycott of Botox until the manufacturer switches to non-animal testing.

According to Animal Aid,

Thousands of mice are being poisoned to death to test the latest cosmetic craze: ‘Botox’. In barbaric experiments known as LD50 toxicity tests – supposedly outlawed by the government in 1999 – the animals are injected with the toxin and suffer symptoms including impaired vision, paralysis of the body, and paralysis of the diaphragm, which leads to death by suffocation.

Botulinum toxin, of course, is fatal to human beings so ensuring that human beings are only injected with enough to paralyze muscles rather than cause more serious problems is essential for ensuring the treatment’s safety.

Companies that manufacture botox assure this safety by using an LD50 test. Since botox batches will vary in potency, an LD50 test is used to determine what the correct dosage level for each batch is. In fact, botox is packaged in vials of 100 mouse units, with each mouse unit being the dosage need to kill 50 percent of mice when injected in animals.

Animal Aid believes such testing should be illegal under Great Britain’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics. But botox has a number of clinical uses as well, and what Great Britain has done is given manufacturer Dysport a blanket clearance to do animal testing of botox — since the use of botox for cosmetics purposes is still off-label in the UK, it hasn’t been forced to consider the conflict created with its cosmetics testing ban.


Outcry over mice that die for every batch of Botox. Sean Poulter, Daily Mail (London), January 27, 2004.

Botox and Animal Experiments. Animal Aid, January 2004.

Poland Considering Allowing Cosmetics Testing

I could not find any information to corroborate this in Google or Lexis/Nexis, but animal rights activists are circulating a petition and sample letters urging the president of Poland to veto supposed recently approved changes by that country’s Parliament to allow cosmetics testings on animals in that country.

Here’s the full text of the letter circulating on animal rights mailing lists and web sites attributed to Marek Kydra of the Animal Welfare Institute, Poland,

Dear Mr. President,

As you know Polish Parliament accepted amendments to the Animal Welfare Act which will have tremendous impact on situation of animals in Poland in the future.

Our big concern cause readings legalizing testing cosmetics on animals, shooting astray dogs and cats, using hormones in husbandry, limiting voice of humane organizations and ignoring EU Directives requiring creation of staging points for animals transports.

We observe a dangerous process of moving delegalized methods of husbandry (battery cages for hens, mink farms from UK and Netherlands) from EU countries to Poland because of liberal regulations and lack of executing the rights of animals there.

Dear Mr. President, it is hardly to believe that the aim of Polish authorities is to undermine EU countries’ regulations securing humane treatment of farm animals by importing cruel methods of husbandry and compete on the market with higher EU standards.

At the time when Germany included animal rights in their constitution and EU is introducing ban on all cosmetic tests on animals, Poland has chosen an opposite direction. Poland with the second oldest animal welfare society in the World is now swimming against the current of civilized World – why it is possible?

We do hope that your country soon will be situated in the center of Europe not only in geographic but also in moral sense.


Please Help To Defend Polish Animal Welfare Act. Press Release, Animal Welfare Institute, Poland, 2004.

France Challenges EU Ban on Cosmetics Animal Tests

Back in January, I wrote about my skepticism that the European Union would ever really follow through on its plan to ban cosmetics tests on animals by 2009. Deferring the ban in such a way simply highlights the lack of political will on the part of EU politicians to go to the mat for such ban, leaving plenty of openings for the ban to be overturned or modified.

Now The Guardian reports that the French government is going to bat for the cosmetics industry and has appealed to the European court of justice to overturn the proposed ban on “legal and technical grounds.” According to The Guardian,

In court documents seen by the Guardian, it argues that the ban is too severe and is incompatible with world trade rules, that its wording is ambiguous and that it will damage European business interests.

Paris also contends that the resulting improvement in animal welfare would be “extremely small” and that “it is likely to result in the circulation of products presenting significant risks to human health”.

France, of course, is home to cosmetics giant L’Oreal, which uses animal testing of its products.

European animal rights activists were not happy at the prospects of seeing the cosmetics ban challenged. British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection’s Wendy Higgins told The Guardian,

It has taken animal campaigners and the European parliament a frustrating 13-year struggle to finally secure legislation to outlaw the suffering of lab animals to produce trivial products like lipstick and perfume.

It is shameful enough that it has taken this long, impeded as we have been at every stage by aggressive industry lobbying. It is even more shameful that a challenge to actually reverse the EU cosmetics animal testing ban has been brought forward.

According to The Guardian, about 38,000 animals are killed annually in European Union countries for cosmetics testing.


Secret French move to block animal-testing ban. The Guardian, August 19, 2003.

Europe Approves Eventual, Someday, Maybe "Ban" on Animal Testing

The European parliament this month approved its so-called ban on animal testing for cosmetics products. What the “ban” really means since the full force of its provisions won’t go into effect for at least 10 years, remains to be seen.

Assuming the law is approved by individual states, by 2009 companies must convert 11 of 14 animal tests to animal alternatives (even though many of those alternatives are only non-animal in the sense that they don’t use whole animals).

Companies are given until 2013 to move to animal alternatives for the remaining three tests.

British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection’s spokesperson Wendy Higgins said of the vote,

This is potentially a historic moment, since to eradicate cosmetic animal testing from the European Union is quite an achievement. However, it is shameful that it has taken so long to do this. We are also disappointed we have a staggered sales ban.

Color me skeptical.

First, plenty of cosmetics and other finished products tested on animals will continue to be sold in Europe indefinitely since all existing compounds — most, if not all, of which have been extensively tested on animals — are grandfathered in.

Second, the 6 and 10 year respective deadlines is like balanced budget legislation in the United States — it simply delays the actual decision making to a point where politicians currently in office will likely not have to deal with it. As those deadlines approach, watch for high powered lobbying to extend the deadlines (and the cosmetics industry is already laying the groundwork for that).

Third, the ban faces a likely strong objection in the World Trade Organization that it represents an unfair barrier to trade.

This “ban” seems more like a classic political maneuver common to democracies where legislation that appears to take a strong position but in actuality essentially commits a government to no immediate action is offered up to appease a perceived politically vocal group.

Tune in around 2008 or so to see if the Europeans stick to their guns on this total ban on animal testing for cosmetics.


Law makeover closes animal test loopholes. Alastair Dalton and Nicola Smith, The Scotsman, January 13, 2003.

European Union Agrees on Cosmetics Testing Ban — Well, Sort Of

The European Union this month finally reached agreement on a law that will ban animal testings on consumer products as well as the marketing and sale of products that are tested on animals outside of EU countries. But the ban has significant loopholes that make it unlikely that animal testing for such products will end anytime soon.

The agreement to amend the EU’s 1976 Cosmetics Directive defines 14 different types of tests currently performed on animals to determine the safety of consumer products. Of those 14 tests, 11 will be banned outright — well, at least they will be banned by 2009, assuming there are no later extensions to that date.

The three remaining tests are designed to measure toxicity and potential reproductive side effects of chemicals. Those tests don’t have any viable alternatives to using animals. So they are set to be banned in 2014, unless there are still no viable alternatives by then in which case those tests can be granted a 10 year extension. So maybe by 2024, the EU might be looking at banning all testing on animal products.

Don’t hold your breath, though, as even the animal rights groups pushing for the ban note that this is unlikely. Wendy Higgins of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection told The Guardian,

This has been an extremely long battle to convince Europe to finally stop killing animals in cosmetics test. But there are too many loopholes and there will never be a complete sales ban. As long as this is tied to non-animal testing alternatives it is doomed because there are only a handful available.

Meanwhile, the ban on products that are tested on animals outside of Europe is likely to face a strong challenge in the World Trade Organization. Great Britain, which already bans animal testing on consumer products in the UK, had long opposed these changes precisely because of that concern, but it and France finally withdrew their opposition this time around after the years-long delay was added to the agreement.


Consumer Policy: Conciliation agreement on animal test ban does not go down well. European Report, November 9, 2002.

New deal on animal testing. Ian Hernon, Liverpool Echo, November 9, 2002.

Activists hail EU’s ban on animal testing. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Calgary Herald, November 8, 2002.

Ban agreed on using animals to test cosmetics. Daily Post (Liverpool), November 8, 2002.

Cosmetics tested on animals to be banned: Campaigners give guarded welcome to EU deal. Andrew Osborn, The Guardian (London), November 8, 2002.

Compromise between EU governments, legislators paves way for possible 2009 ban on animal-tested cosmetics. Paul Ames, Associated Press, November 7, 2002.

Animal rights slam EU testing ban. Avirl Stephens, CNN, November 7, 2002.