(ANIMAL NEWS/ANIMAL TESTING) In a major victory for lab animals, China has finally accepted the first non-animal testing method for cosmetics.

This breakthrough can be attributed to the scientists at the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS)–a non-profit institution focused on developing non-animal research methods–who have created a 3T3 Phototoxicity method that measures a chemical’s potential harm by exposing it to light rather than injecting or applying it onto rabbits, mice, or other lab animals.

This practice is already in widespread use throughout the U.S. and the E.U., but soon, for the first time ever, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) will recognize the cruelty-free data as acceptable for safety evaluations of cosmetic ingredients.

A rabbit is used for cosmetic animal testing. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
A rabbit is used for cosmetic animal testing. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The institution’s groundbreaking work began with a grant from PETA after the animal rights group exposed China’s requirements for cosmetics tests in 2012. The scientsits have since traveled to China several times over the past four years to offer expertise and guidance regarding animal testing alternatives.

In 2010, China surpassed the U.S. as the largest manufacturer of consumer goods in the world. But since the Chinese government currently requires all cosmetic companies to pay for cruel animal experiments in order to sell imported and specialty cosmetic products in China, this makes it extremely difficult for cruelty-free companies in the U.S. to sell their products internationally.

“The anticipated publication by CFDA is an extremely important step for China,” co-founder and president of IIVS Erin Hill says. “It clearly demonstrates China’s commitment to modernize their testing requirements and reduce their reliance on animal models.”

Rabbits used for animal testing are placed in stocks. Photo Credit: BUAV
Rabbits used for animal testing are placed in stocks. Photo Credit: BUAV

These cosmetic companies include major brands like including Avon, Estée Lauder, and Mary Kay, which for years had been featured on our list of companies that don’t test on animals.

Fortunately, this newly accepted testing method will spare thousands of animals from lives of pain and suffering.

“Some U.S. cosmetics companies sold out when they quietly paid for tests on animals in China, but now, there will be a little less suffering in Chinese laboratories and a little less blood on corporate hands,” Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s senior vice president, said in a statement.

Chinese scientists learn a new method that will replace a cruel eye irritation test used on rabbits. Photo Credit: PETA
Chinese scientists learn a new method that will replace a cruel eye irritation test used on rabbits. Photo Credit: PETA

IIVS is currently in the process of developing training programs to assist scientists in China as they begin using the new testing method. Once the CFDA officially publishes the scientists’ work, the non-animal alternative can be used to determine the safety of cosmetics, personal care products, and other individual ingredients.

A statement from PETA reads:

“PETA is proud to have contributed to this effort, and congratulates the scientists at IIVS for their critical work helping to end the Chinese government’s requirements for tests on animals for cosmetics.”

We applaud all of those involved in putting an end to animal testing in China, and we hope all cosmetic companies will adopt cruelty-free testing methods.

— Alisa Manzelli, exclusive to Global Animal

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