Australia Passes Bill Banning Animal Testing for Cosmetics Nationwide

Australia will no longer allow new products to go on the market if they aren't cruelty-free.

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Feb. 19 2019, Updated 4:19 p.m. ET

green matters australia cosmetics animal testing
Source: ISTOCK

In a huge win for animals, the Australian Senate just signed a bill prohibiting animal testing for cosmetics across the country. Lawmakers passed the bill as part of Industrial Chemicals Bills 2017, a group of six bills regulating industrial chemicals down under. One section of the bills bans animal testing on ingredients intended for cosmetic purposes across Australia. Specifically, the bill puts a "ban on animal test data for applications for cosmetics."

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Humane Society International (HSI) campaigned for the government to approve the bill, as per a press release on the organization's website. As the release explained, the bill includes 11 measures to make sure all forms of cosmetic animal testing are encapsulated by the ban. Additionally, the bill provides funding that will "support the development and uptake of modern non-animal test methods." 

According to the press release, the bill has a focus on new cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients. It will "prohibit new animal test data for all cosmetic uses of chemical ingredients introduced to Australia, ensuring that consumers won’t be exposed to buying newly animal tested cosmetics even after the ban comes into force."  The emphasis on new cosmetics means that non-cruelty-free cosmetics that are already on the market will still be able to be sold, even after the ban takes effect. Brian Quinlan from the Department of Health told Vogue Australia that the bills still have a few more steps before becoming law. But once they do (hopefully), "the ban will apply to animal test data obtained from tests [conducted] on or after 1 July 2020."

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There are so many reasons to stop testing cosmetic ingredients on animals. For one thing, the practice often yields unreliable data, since humans and animals are different in so many ways, Cruelty Free International pointed out. Plus, animal testing is much more cruel than simply putting mascara on a guinea pig — as HSI's press release pointed out, animals are often subjected to having chemicals poured in their eyes or force fed to them. 

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Every year, researchers test new chemicals and cometic ingredients on millions of animals including rabbits, mice, and dogs, most of whom are killed afterwards, according to Beauty Lies Truth. There really is no need to continue torturing animals, especially now that Australia has allocated money for other kinds of cosmetic research. Not to mention, 85 percent of Australians surveyed said they are against the use of animal testing for cosmetics in a 2013 poll by Nexus Research, according to HSI's press release.

An organization called Humane Research Australia was a huge supporter of the bill, and the group even started the #BeCrueltyFree Australia campaign. Hannah Stuart, Campaign Manager for #BeCrueltyFree Australia, explained why this ban on animal testing in Australia is so important. 

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"This week’s commitments by the Government to further restrict the use of new animal test data for cosmetic uses, and to reduce reliance on animal testing more broadly as well, come as a product of nearly three years of intensive negotiations with Humane Society International," Stuart said in a statement included in HSI's press release. "Paired with the Government’s additional commitments to HSI, this ban reflects both the global trend to end cosmetics cruelty, and the will of the Australian public which opposes using animals in the development of cosmetics."

This bill is a huge step for Australia's cosmetics industry. Hopefully, it will inspire a few Australian-based beauty companies to rethink their practices and roll out new cruelty-free products in the near future.

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