“Beauty without cruelty” becomes law

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1998:

Cosmetic product testing on animals was
banned in Britain, effective November 16,
1998, but Indian minister for social welfare
and empowerment Maneka Gandhi has
reportedly been obliged to backtrack from
proposed rules which were touted as the most
stringent regulation of vivisection anywhere.
“Maneka has unfortunately
removed most of the good features from her
rules,” Susi Weisinger of the Bombay
activist group Ahimsa told ANIMAL PEOP
LE––but Maneka herself told Indian
Express reporter Pallava Bagla on December
3 that despite research industry posturing,
she remained “satisfied with the rules.”

Wrote Bagla, “The rules now put
forward a decentralized structure, as against
the central monolith that was envisioned earlier.
This will reduce the paper work and
greatly cut down the red-tapism that the scientists
feared most.”
Many of the changes were reportedly
taken from recommendations by the Indian
Council of Medical Research.
Inasmuch as Maneka herself is an
outspoken foe of bureaucracy, as well as
vivisection and other forms of cruelty, she
may well have been happier with amendments
to expedite administration and enforcement
of the new regulations than many of her
supporters, who might have hoped to choke
vivisectors in the snarls of red tape for which
the Indian civil service is infamous.

More from Britain
The British government, explained
London Times political correspondent James
Landale, “banned using animals to test final
products such as lipsticks and mascara a year
ago. At the same time it said there would be
no new licenses for the testing of ingredients.
But three firms which already held licenses
were allowed to continue using animals.”
That ended when the Home Office
brokered a deal with the three companies to
end all animal use in cosmetics testing.
The agreement somewhat resembles
those that the late Animal Rights
International founder Henry Spira won with
Avon and Revlon in 1980, which many other
U.S. cosmetics makers have since ratified.
As Associated Press noted, “The
ban will not block animal testing for drugs
and scientific research, and will have scant
effect on most animal testing in Britain.”
According to Home Office data,
only 1,266 animals among the 2.6 million
used in British laboratories during 1997 were

used in testing cosmetics.
But more than 15,000 animals a year
were used in British cosmetics testing only 10
years ago.
The British antivivisection movement,
the world’s oldest, commenced early in
the 19th century. The longtime leader of the
cause was Frances Moore Cobbe (1822-1904),
who was obliged by financial distress to work
as a vivisector’s assistant while still in her
teens, and devoted the rest of her life to crusading
for abolition of the cruelty she had witnessed.
Cobbe secured passage of the 1876
Cruelty to Animals Act, which required vivisectors
to register with the government and to
use anesthesia when possible. Though the
strongest regulation of vivisection on the
books anywhere at the time, and for many
years afterward, the act fell well short of actually
stopping experiments.
Cobbe had no cause to concern herself
with cosmetics testing, because then,
before the rise of consumer protection law, little
if any was done. By the mid-1950s, however,
the cosmetics industry had become one
of the largest users of animals in laboratories.
Muriel, the Lady Dowding (1908-1993), a
lifelong humane crusader, formed Beauty
Without Cruelty in 1959 specifically to oppose
cosmetics testing.
BWC spun off the Beauty Without
Cruelty cosmetics manufacturing company as
an independent operation in 1963. At least
two other BWC spin-offs are prominent––
Beauty Without Cruelty–India, among the
most militant and effective Indian animal
rights organizations under Diana Ratnagar of
Pune, and the American Fund for Alternatives
to Animal Research, directed by Ethel
Thurston of New York City, who also heads
the U.S. chapter of BWC.
Older antivivisection societies were
slow to recognize the value of organizing
women against the cosmetics industry, but the
British Union Against Vivisection did make
cosmetics testing a priority after helping to
secure passage of an update of Cobbe’s
Cruelty to Animals Act, the 1986 Scientific
Procedures Act.

European Union
Despite the relatively small number
of animals currently involved, the British ban
will have global resonance.
“The government will also be pressing
its policy of ending animal testing for cosmetics
at the European Union level, where EU
policy on cosmetics testing is currently under
review,” Janice Cox and Wim de Kok of
World Animal Net predicted.
BWC and AFAAR will ask the EU
to accept a procedure which Thurston in an
October 31 letter to supporters termed “a fully
scientific replacement for the LD50 test,
which can be used right away.”
The traditional LD50 test involves
feeding substances to groups of 100 animals
until half the animals die. For most uses, it
long since was superseded by more sophisticated
variants such as the LD10––but these
tests do use some animals.
Funded for seven years by AFAAR,
cytotoxicologist Bjorn Ekwall of Sweden has
now developed human cell culture tests which
in a combination of two, “predict human
lethal concentrations with 71% precision,”
and in a combination of three, achieve 77%
precision, Thurston said.
“By the same multivariate analyses,”
Thurston continued, “the rat and mouse
LD50s predict human lethal doses at only 65%
precision. These and other results, with fully
scientific backup figures, were announced to
the scientific community at the Invitox
Conferance in September, and will appear in
peer-reviewed journals.”
Home Office secretary George
Howarth said the Labour government would
continue to seek reduction of animal use in
laboratories in other directions, as well.
Already, Howarth stated, Labour has
increased funding for investigation of alternatives
to animal research; banned animal use in
testing alcohol and tobacco products; banned
the use of gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees,
and bonobos in research; and increased the
Home Office laboratory inspection staff.

More from India
The major change to the pending
Indian regulations, according to Pallava Bagla
of The Indian Express, is that “The draft rules
had envisaged that no animal experimentation
would be carried out without the explicit written
approval of a central committee, chaired
by the minister herself.”
Reviewing every proposed experiment,
however, would have left Maneka and
her eventual successors with little time for
other work––and would have created a backlog
of procedures to be reviewed, which in
turn might have encouraged Indian companies
to do their research and testing abroad.
Had that occurred, the object of regulating
animal experimentation would have
been lost. Anticipating that this could occur,
the draft regulations now withdrawn had
included prohibitions on collaborative research
involving foreign institutions. That was
impractical, however, since many Indian
institutions lack the facilities to do some kinds
of work, and because breaking-edge science
often requires the cooperation of researchers in
several different nations.
Authority to approve experiments
will now reside with institutional animal care
and use committees, as under the U.S. Animal
Welfare Act. The composition of such committees,
also modeled after the AWA but not
directly parallel, is to include as well as scientists,
a veterinarian, a public representative,
and a nominee of the government. The committees
are to be created within 60 days of the
regulations becoming final.
“Also,” Bagla wrote, “researchers
will now only need blanket clearances for
complete projects, not for each procedure on
an experiment-to-experiment basis. The
rules,” Bagla continued, “still envisage that
all biomedical institutions will register within
60 days with the Committee for the Purpose of
Control and Supervision of Experiments on
Animals,” which Maneka has established,
“but to avoid delays, all the laboratory needs
to do is make an application, and if they don’t
hear of any objections from the ministry, they
can continue as usual.”
Added Bagla, “The central committee
retains the right to conduct surprise checks
at any time, and if any laboratory is found to
be unsatisfactory, its license can still be suspended
or revoked.”

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