While testing cosmetics and their ingredients on animals is now prohibited in the European Union, India, Israel and in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, over 80% of the world - including the United States - still allows animals to be used in experiments for cosmetic products. To change the situation, Cruelty Free International, the leading animal rights association fighting against vivisection, has partnered with The Body Shop to collect the signatures of consumers and supporters in more than 65 countries including Japan, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. Customers of The Body Shop stores were asked to sign a pledge calling for an end to tests on animals for cosmetic purposes, and about one million signatures were collected.

“Global trend”

Last week, Cruelty Free International, Japan Anti-Vivisection Association (JAVA) and The Body Shop called on Japan to end the use of animals to test cosmetics. Dr Nick Palmer, Director of Policy with Cruelty Free International, was in Japan to help present a petition to the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Norihisa Tamura.

"In today’s Japan, some cosmetic companies have given up animal experiments in response to consumers’ appeals whilst others are still testing on animals. In order to improve such a confused situation without a level playing field for all companies, the Japanese government should proactively introduce into its policies the new ethical value to promote the abolition of animal testing," explained JAVA Executive Director, Yuichi Hasegawa.

Dr Nick Palmer (centre) from Cruelty Free International at the meeting with Minister Norihisa Tamura. Also present are Ms Junko Mihara MP (left), Ms Hiromi Kamekura of JAVA and Mr Takeshi Fukumoto, President of The Body Shop Japan.

According to Dr Nick Palmer, Mr Norihisa Tamura, said that it was now clear that the global trend was away from animal testing for cosmetics. The Minister of Health still saw difficulties in an early Government initiative but encouraged members of the Diet [Japanese Parliament] to bring forward suggestions.

The meeting was an important step. Up to now, Japan has not engaged with us on the issue so we very much welcome Mr Tamura acceptance that the problem needs to be tackled. We look forward to a constructive dialogue on the way forward,” Dr Palmer commented.

U.S. Congress under pressure

As far as the U.S.A. is concerned, representatives from Cruelty Free International and The Body Shop met with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to discuss the petition. Mrs Schakowsky is the leading legislator working on cosmetics regulation reform in the United States.

We appeal the to the United States Government to listen to the collective voice of one million people and start putting plans in place to end these experiments and prevent further unnecessary suffering for thousands of animals,” said Cruelty Free International Chief Executive, Michelle Thew.