Dame Anita Roddick
The Late Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, a pioneer in campaigning against animal testing

After decades of campaigning against product testing on animals, activists are celebrating as the end of animal testing for cosmetics comes to a halt in Europe. Starting March 11, 2013, the import and sale of cosmetic products and ingredients tested on animals is to be completely banned in all European Union states.

Animal testing will be banned regardless of where in the world it is tested, not just in the EU. The ban will not only include beauty products such as lipstick and foundation, but also essential toiletries such as soap, body lotions and toothpaste.

Although the above mentioned EU ban has been planned since 2009, many beauty companies continued testing on animals with the expectation that the ban was to be delayed or even unimplemented. Others were allegedly searching for alternative methods.

In response to that, the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, confirmed that the ban will be implemented, saying "I believe that the ban should enter into force in March 2013 as Parliament and Council have already decided. I am therefore not planning to propose a postponement or derogation to the ban. This decision also means that we need to step up our efforts in the development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods as well as in the international recognition of these methods. I know that ECEAE has been a valuable and knowledgeable partner in these areas and I count on your future support."

This is a significant milestone and historic achievement for animal rights activists worldwide and sends a strong message to countries outside the EU as well, in the hopes that they will follow suit.

Back in 1991, the BUAV, a British animal rights group, established a European association called ECEAE, made up of animal protection organizations from across Europe. The ECEAE's main objective was to end the use of animal testing for cosmetics.

In 1993, The Body Shop, the first beauty company against animal testing, supported the ECEAE and in 1996, the late Dame Anita Roddick , founder of The Body Shop, together with members of the ECEAE and members of the European Parliament presented the European Commission with a petition against animal testing that contained 4 million signatures.

In 2012, the BUAV established Cruelty Free International, the first global organization dedicated to ending cosmetics animal testing worldwide. The Body Shop and Cruelty Free International launched a global campaign in which The Body Shop customers from 55 countries pledged to end to product testing on animals forever.

Michelle Thew, Chief Executive of Cruelty Free International, said, "This is truly an historic event and the culmination of over 20 years of campaigning.  Now we will apply our determination and vision on a global stage to ensure that the rest of the world follows this lead."

Remarking on this immense accomplishment, Paul McGreevy, International Values Director at The Body Shop said, "This great achievement in Europe is only the closure of one chapter. The future of beauty must be cruelty free."

We couldn't agree more. We only hope that the rest of the world follows suit immediately.

– Staff Writer

Image courtesy of The Body Shop

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