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The Body Shop Is Calling For a Global Ban on Animal Testing in Beauty

Partnerships with key NGOs and the United Nations are part of the company's tactics.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One need only glance over the list of brands, retailers and publications that have sworn not to use fur of late to know that the tide is very much turning in favor of animal rights. And it's not just fashion that's catching the bug: Beauty is moving away from cosmetics that have been tested on animals at a steady clip, too. 

In 2009, the European Union implemented a ban on animal testing in makeup ingredients, and in 2013, extended the ban to include imported products. Since then, countries like India, Israel, New Zealand and Guatemala have followed suit with their own versions of the ban, and plenty of brands are pledging not to test on animals of their own accord, largely in response to consumer demand.

For major players in the campaign against animal testing, the United Nations — and a global ban — are the next target.

"We need one law that everyone subscribes to," said The Body Shop's head of campaigns Jessie Macneil-Brown at a press event in New York City on Wednesday. "Because we have people in our regulatory departments, and they don't want to be dealing with different regulations and different types of this ban in 70 different countries."

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A standardized regulation that makes things easier for cruelty-free brands isn't the only thing campaigners are hoping to create. They're also looking to shift laws in countries that don't have them yet. For all the progress made in the EU, 80 percent of countries haven't made it illegal for brands to test cosmetic ingredients on animals. China, in particular, represents a huge market that not only doesn't ban animal testing, but actually requires it for any cosmetics being imported into the country. For staunchly cruelty-free players like The Body Shop and its long-term NGO partner Cruelty Free International, that just won't do.

The two have been campaigning against animal testing together since 1989. In the intervening years, the beauty business and NGO have seen the importance of involving the voices of both citizens and governments in the movement. Since launching its #ForeverAgainstAnimalTesting campaign in 2017, the The Body Shop and Cruelty Free International have gathered 7 million signatures from people who want to see animal testing practices put to an end. It's the power of those millions of combined voices that the company and NGO hope they can leverage to shift opinions at the U.N.

"The overwhelming support for your campaign... clearly shows that we, international leaders [and] politicians, should join forces to stop animal cruelty that is taking place in our beauty industry worldwide," said Anja Hazekamp, a European Parliament the Netherlands’ Party for the Animals member, at the Wednesday event hosted by Cruelty Free International and The Body Shop. "There's no excuse to torture and to kill animals for shampoo, soap or lipstick."

So is a global ban on animal testing on the horizon? It seems like a big goal, but so did the idea of getting the UK pass a ban back in 1989.

"We've been working on this campaign for decades, but I think this really is a pivotal moment in this issue," said CEO of Cruelty Free International Michelle Thew. "You can now feel that we’re actually making real progress with this issue."

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