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Ensuring Cosmetics Testing Bill Supports Nonanimal Methods

Ensuring Cosmetics Testing Bill Supports Nonanimal MethodsThe PCRM Legislative Fund is working to ensure that new cosmetics testing legislation includes provisions to support the development and use of effective nonanimal test methods, an approach that will protect millions of animals and help produce safer products for humans.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, H.R. 5786, was introduced in July by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to overhaul cosmetics regulation. The bill was introduced within two days of the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, which PCRM is also working to strengthen, and is part of a broader trend over the last few years to improve regulation of chemicals in the environment and in consumer products.

Currently, cosmetics are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA). Under the FFDCA, cosmetics manufacturers are responsible for verifying the safety of their products, but they are not required to perform particular safety tests or gain approval from the FDA prior to marketing their products. This concerns many who desire greater oversight of consumer products.

H.R. 5786 would increase regulatory authority, but the bill would also require that cosmetics ingredients undergo extensive toxicity tests for an array of potential health effects. Although there are acceptable nonanimal methods for certain types of safety tests, much of the mandatory testing called for in this bill would require the use of animals. The testing requirements are so far-reaching that companies with all-natural products are concerned they will have to test ingredients such as lavender and sage in animals.

“Animal tests are not a good way to assess how cosmetics ingredients will affect human health,” says PCRM scientist Nancy Beck, Ph.D. “And even if they were, the amount of testing required by this bill is completely unworkable because of the huge number of animals, laboratory capacity, time, and money required for testing, as well as the resources needed for FDA to review all this data.”

PCRM is pushing for commonsense safety testing by urging legislators to support testing tailored to an ingredient rather than a one-size-fits-all checklist. In addition, PCRM scientists are calling for a mandate that the FDA and cosmetics companies consider all existing data on an ingredient to determine whether additional information is needed. This approach would reduce animal use while also creating a more efficient assessment system.

Although the Safe Cosmetics Act calls for increased testing, it does include a section that requires the use of existing nonanimal alternatives “where practicable.” This is stronger language than the new chemical testing legislation, which only encourages the use of alternatives.

PCRM is pushing for even stronger provisions in the bill to replace animal testing with effective alternatives, including explicit mention of modern toxicity testing approaches such as in vitro and computational methods.

The European Union recently adopted a new cosmetics testing model, the Cosmetics Directive, 76/768/EEC. This legislation has spurred innovation in test method development by gradually banning the use of animals. The ban effectively prompted the development of several advanced methods to address cosmetics safety. PCRM is urging United States legislators to follow this model.

Nancy Beck, Ph.D.
Nancy Beck, Ph.D.

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