Legislation by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani would ban the sale of personal care products in California that have been tested on animals. Retailers say it would harm consumers.
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By Kristie Sullivan
Kristie Sullivan is vice president of research policy with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a sponsor of the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, KSullivan@pcrm.org. She wrote this commentary for CALmatters.
The United States lags behind much of the world in preventing the next shade of lipstick or shampoo scent from being tested on animals.
But California could soon take an important step in becoming the first state to fix that problem by approving Senate Bill 1249, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a Stockton Democrat.
As a Californian and a toxicologist working for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a co-sponsor of the bill—I applaud Galgiani, who introduced the bill in February because of inaction at the federal level.
She continues California’s tradition of supporting advanced, non-animal testing methods that are better for both human and animal lives.
Unfortunately, federal efforts to ban animal testing for cosmetics have stalled, and hundreds of thousands of rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats around the world are still killed each year to test cosmetics.
The experiments—developed in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s—usually involve applying chemicals or products to animals’ shaved skin or eyes, or force-feeding them through a tube inserted into the animal’s stomach. This is despite recognized biological differences between humans and other animals that make data from animal tests unreliable.
Non-animal methods are available to ensure safety, including engineered 3-D human skin tissues or other types of cells and sophisticated computer models. Those alternatives often are cheaper or faster than animal experiments.
Because they use human cells, they are more reliable predictors of human reactions. Companies can also utilize the hundreds of thousands of ingredients for which safety data is already available.
It has been five years since the European Union banned the testing of cosmetics on animals in the EU and the marketing or sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals outside the EU.
Since that time, Norway, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, India, Guatemala, Taiwan, and New Zealand have also instituted bans on testing or marketing. Canada, Australia, Hawaii, and New York City have pending legislation.
Multiple polls show that Americans support ending animal testing for cosmetics, and a 2015 Nielsen poll found that “not tested on animals” was the most important consumer packaging claim.
Fortunately, there are many cruelty-free cosmetic brands already on the market and many international companies avoid animal testing completely.
Sen. Galgiani’s legislation would ensure that the wrinkle creams, eyeshadows, and beauty masks on California’s shelves are not tested on animals. Won’t that be beautiful?By Bill Dombrowski
Bill Dombrowski is president and chief executive of the California Retailers Association, email@example.com. He wrote this commentary for CALmatters.
Legislation facing a final vote in the coming days would ban the sale of thousands of personal care products in California if any ingredient is tested on animals anywhere in the world for any reason.
It would affect everything from lipstick and toothpaste to sunscreen.
On the surface, the legislation, Senate Bill 1249 by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a Stockton Democrat, appears to put legislators in the unenviable position of having to pick between animal and consumer welfare. But this bill does not advance either objective.
While failing to advance a scientific or regulatory framework that would eliminate or even reduce animal testing, the bill will also impact nearly 415,000 California jobs, hurt retailers, encourage offshore manufacturing and have long-term consequences on consumer health.
Here is how it would work: Today, Company A manufactures an organic, cruelty-free sunscreen that is carried in California stores. None of Company A’s ingredients, or final products, are tested on animals.
But in February 2020, one of the sunscreen’s ingredients is tested on animals in Finland as part of a university research initiative. That testing conducted half-way across the world will trigger the SB 1249 ban. California stores would be forced to pull Company A’s sunscreen from shelves, along with every other sunscreen that contains the impacted ingredient.
Take this scenario and apply it to every new and existing product in California, and you have the disastrous practical effect of SB 1249. It’d be a nightmare for manufacturers, stores, and consumers. Even the most committed cruelty-free brands would be vulnerable under SB 1249.
The bill’s impact wouldn’t stop there. It would keep new ingredients, which may be better for humans and the environment, off California’s shelves. Imagine a new preservative developed in 2021 that’s substantially better for our endocrine system than those available today. If it had been tested on animals anywhere in the world, it never would get to consumers.
The European Union, which has a progressive animal welfare regulatory scheme, requires animal testing in very limited circumstances to ensure worker and environmental health.
China requires animal testing for most imports, though they waive this requirement for companies producing in-country, creating a strong incentive for California-based businesses to move jobs overseas. Even California’s own Green Chemistry law, developed to spare us from unnecessary additives and chemicals, may necessitate animal testing in some circumstances.
SB 1249 would jeopardize the $29 billion in state gross domestic product, and $7.2 billion in sales tax revenue levied on personal care products. And it will raise prices by limiting supply. Californians will have less choice, and pay more, on products they need and use every day.
Legislators who opposing SB 1249 may not be taking a popular stand. But they shouldn’t be in the business of killing jobs, moving manufacturing overseas, or banning thousands of products and raising prices.
Here’s an alternative: California’s animal welfare standards could be elevated to align with the EU’s framework, protecting both animals and people without sacrificing jobs, the economy and human health. Animal or human welfare is a false choice, one our representatives should reject before it’s too late.