India bans testing of cosmetics on animals

LW Legal Update Network

India became the first South Asian country to ban testing of cosmetics on animals. Decision was taken at a Cosmetics Sectional Committee meeting of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Committee was chaired by the Drugs Controller General of India and was in line with the European Union’s stand.

Committee on July 28, 2013 (Friday) approved the removal of any mention of animal tests from the country’s cosmetics standard. The use of modern non-animal alternative tests also becomes mandatory, replacing invasive tests on animals.

Decision was followed after appeals from various quarters, including that from the National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and campaigner for animal rights Maneka Gandhi, to prevent cruelty to animals.

In India, testing of cosmetics is regulated under the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Any person or corporate manager or owner who violates the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act shall be punishable for a term which may extend from 3-10 years and shall also be liable to fine which could be Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000 or with both ((Section 30(1)(b) read with clause (c) of Section 27)).

Invasive tests on animals are replaced by the modern non-animal alternative tests. It had been decided that the last two animal-related tests would be dropped from the regulatory standards and any new cosmetic ingredient or product would have to comply with the non-animal standards of BIS.

Further, such non-animal alternative tests are made mandatory for any manufacturer of cosmetics. In other words any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must first seek the approval from Central Drug Standards Control Organisation. A manufacturer will be given approval to test only after complying with the BIS non-animal standards.

27 countries of European Union and Israel have effectively implemented ban on testing and sales putting an end to the cosmetic testing on animals. As of now more than 1200 companies across the world have banned all kinds of cosmetic tests on animal tests in favour of effective, modern non-animal tests. However, many are still following the cruel practices.

Decision of BIS is a welcome step. However, government shall go one step ahead by banning all those cosmetics imported to India for sale after being tested on animals abroad.