Animal rights slam EU testing ban
By CNN's Avril Stephens
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- Animal rights groups have condemned the timetable set by European politicians to end the use of animals for cosmetics testing.
The European parliament agreed with EU member states earlier on Thursday to ban the use of animals for cosmetics testing by 2009.
The agreement also includes a ban on the import and marketing of cosmetic products that have used animal experiments in their manufacture.
But the RSPCA branded the deal as being "more bad than good," while an international animal rights' group said it "did not go far enough."
The agreement sets out a ban on testing animals for cosmetic purposes to come in force in seven years time, giving the industry time to find safe alternative tests, with an extension until 2013 for particularly difficult tests.
The directive, which has yet to be formally rubber-stamped by the European Parliament and the 15 member states, was described by the parliament as being "well balanced and a fair compromise."
But animal welfare groups criticised the length of time given before the ban kicks in -- especially for three of the 14 tests which measure toxicity, effects on the reproductive systems and the spread of toxins.
Marlou Heinen, deputy head of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) International, said: "The problem is that these are the most painful tests that the animals have to endure.
"We are very disappointed that the European Parliament was unable to maintain its position and gave into pressure of EU member states, including the UK.
"Animal testing for cosmetics is inexcusable and unnecessary and should now have been ended once and for all."
RSPCA: 38,000 animals tested in EU
The RSPCA said about 38,000 animals continue to be used in the European Union in experiments to develop and test new cosmetic ingredients and products every year.
After the tests, the animals -- rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs -- are routinely killed.
Sean Gifford, spokesman for U.S.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animlas (Peta), believed to be the world's largest animal rights group, told CNN: "This is a step in the right direction, but the EU had not gone far enough.
"What is really needed is an immediate ban on the sale of all cosmetic goods that use animal experiments in their production.
"This ban is not even set to come in until 2009, yet hundreds of cosmetic companies all around the world already use alternative, humane and effective tests -- it's about time the European Union came on board."
Brian Gunn, Secretary-General of the International Association Against Painful Experiments, said his group had been campaigning for 30 years for a ban, "now we are talking about another 10 years, plus."
He told CNN the cosmetics industry already has enough products on the market for which tests have been carried out.
Gunn also said he was concerned that the industry would be able to circumvent any European ban on manufacture by moving to other parts of the world.
Only the UK, Austria, and the Netherlands have imposed bans on cosmetic animal testing, but products from other countries are still sold. Most testing is done in France and Italy.
Many cosmetics, from hand creams to lipsticks and perfumes, are tested for a wide range of side effects.
Some tests can be done in test tubes, but scientists often use animals to check for dangers such as cancer or allergic reaction.
The Danish EU presidency said in a statement: "The ban on animal testing will... put an end to the use of animals in the testing of cosmetic products, but without jeopardising consumer safety."
Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt was quoted by Reuters as saying: "The ban on testing of cosmetic products on animals within the EU is in itself a great win for animal welfare.
"But to prevent the import into the community of products that are tested in third countries, it was also very important that agreement was reached on the ban on marketing."
It is believed the deal will not compromise World Trade Organisation rules on trade barriers.
The European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, said the industry had already spent more than 500 million euros (about $500 million) in the development, promotion, and use of alternative testing methods.
A spokesman added "significant progress has been made" in the "long and complex process in which industry is continuing its investment and ultimately research alternatives."
But it has "serious reservations regarding the proposed timing for the development and validation of all of the alternative methods needed to totally eliminate animal testing."