Can there be research without animals in the future? With the aim of achieving an EU-wide ban on animal testing, the European citizens‘ initiative „Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe Without Animal Testing“ has started a petition addressed to the EU Commission. The organisers had one year to collect at least one million signatures across EU countries. The deadline was August 31st. At that time, the petition had about 1.4 million signatures.Should the initiative succeed with its demands, this would have significant consequences for cutting-edge research in Europe with consequences ranging from patient safety to the protection of research animals.
However, the result is not yet official. It may still take several months before the EU Commission addresses the concerns of animal welfare activists and takes a position on the matter. The authorities in the individual EU member states must first check the signatures and certify them.
But what is it actually about? Since 2013, there has been a marketing ban throughout the EU on cosmetics products if the product or its ingredients have been tested on animals. The EU chemicals regulation REACH, on the other hand, allows exceptions for the testing of chemical substances to ensure the protection of employees in the chemical industry who come into contact with the substances in the course of their work.
Three demands to the EU Commission
The European Citizens‘ Initiative therefore demands that the the EU chemicals regulation REACH should be amended so that cosmetics no longer require animal testing in any form.
All information on the legal basis and the conflict between the EU Cosmetics Regulation and the REACH Regulation for the protection of humans and the environment can also be found compactly and clearly in our factsheet (PDF – in German language only).
The areas of food and chemicals should also be completely free of animal testing in the future. In addition, the EU Commission is requested to initiate a phase-out plan for the gradual abolition of all animal testing in the EU within the current legislative period.
Similar petition was unsuccessful in 2014
In 2014, the European initiative „Stop vivisection“ had launched a similar petition demanding an immediate stop to all animal experiments. However, the EU Commission did not consider the requested amendments to the EU Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes necessary.
The information initiative “Tierversuche verstehen” (TVV) has gathered more background and facts on the current petition and its history. In a guest article, Olivia Masseck, professor of Synthetic Biology at the University of Bremen, comments on the demand for a phase-out plan.