For animal rights activists, March 11, 2013 marks the day the European Union’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics officially comes into effect. This fortnight, the Indian arm of the Humane Society International, an animal protection group based out of the US, is kick-starting a week-long campaign called the Be Cruelty-Free Week. The aim of the campaign is to ask the Drug Controller General of India to implement a similar ban in the country. Lush, The Body Shop, and Shahnaz Husain are some of the cruelty-free products that are available in India. That means they don’t use animal ingredients in their products and don’t test on animals. In an email interview with Bijal Vachharajani, Alokparna Sengupta, the Be-Cruelty Free Campaign Manager at HSI detailed how readers can get more involved.
Tell us about the Be Cruelty-Free Campaign.
The campaign aims to create the political will and consumer pressure needed to ban cosmetics animal testing wherever it takes place. Millions of animals including rabbits, mice and guinea pigs are made to endure obsolete, cruel and painful tests for cosmetics. With the EU banning product testing including a ban on sale and marketing of animal tested products, the Be Cruelty-Free campaign aims to emulate this worldwide including India. We are working with the Drug Controller General of India who is the main regulator of cosmetic testing in India to change India’s policy. We are reaching out to consumers and working with the cosmetic industry to urge them to take an animal-friendly approach to safety testing.
What are the some of the cruelty-free products that are available in India?
Our partner, Lush is a cruelty-free cosmetic brand, apart from The Body Shop, St Ives, Biotique, Forest Essentials, Lotus Herbals and Shahnaz Husain products. A lot of Vicco and Himalaya products are not tested on animals. To ensure that the product you’re buying is cruelty-free, check the packaging for a “leaping bunny” sign [an internationally recognised logo for animalfriendly products].
Is there a dichotomy in industry standards where brands do not test on animals globally, don’t hesitate to test here?
There is a possibility that international brands that are not allowed to test in their own countries, contract these animals tests to countries like India and China where animal testing for cosmetics is still legal and facilities are cost effective. In India, testing is not a mandatory requirement by the Government of India; the government has left it up to the manufacturers to test on animals if they feel it is necessary.
What do you think will be the outcome of the campaign?
Research and experience has proved that animal testing is not required for cosmetics. There are more than 18,000 chemicals that have already been tested and whose safety is known. More than 400 companies are currently cruelty-free and do not test on animals. Europe, the world’s largest market for cosmetics, and Israel, have already set a precedent on the prohibition on animal testing.
The Be Cruelty-Free Week is from Mon Mar 11-Fri Mar 15. To get involved, visit www.hsi.org.
By Bijal Vachharajani on March 01 2013 12.49pm