OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is celebrating its new ban on cosmetic animal testing in Canada, but even one of the proponents of this change admits it’s a largely “symbolic” measure given that such testing hasn’t gone on in Canada for years.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was flanked by members of the cosmetic industry and animal-rights advocates as he held a press conference to herald the amendment to the Food and Drugs Act, which was enacted into law last week with the passing of the Budget Implementation Act.
The amendment prohibits companies from testing cosmetics on animals in Canada and the sale of cosmetics that rely on animal testing data to establish product safety. It also prohibits deceptive or misleading claims about animal testing.
“Today’s announcement shows that we have reached a point where we can fulfill safety requirements for cosmetics without resorting to animal testing and without compromising the health and safety of Canadians,” said Duclos.
“That will also increase the confidence of Canadians in the use of cosmetics, and facilitate trade with countries with similar measures.”
Dozens of other countries have bans on animal testing, including Australia, the U.K. and all EU members.
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Rebecca Aldworth from Humane Society International was at the Duclos press conference and described the ban as a “historic victory.”
Also at the announcement was Darren Praznik, president of Cosmetics Alliance Canada, a trade industry association for cosmetics and personal care products, who told reporters that this new legislative change would not affect any cosmetic brands currently operating in Canada.
“We haven’t been doing animal testing for years,” he said. “I think it’s really symbolic, though, that we recognize it in law.”
Praznik also suggested that the law it is likely to have no impact on the makeup brands already in stores whose safety was tested on animals in the past.
“The reality is, if an ingredient has been there 10, 20 years in use, the law requires that you be able to demonstrate safety. You’ve got 10, 20 years of human-use safety data. So that really is your justification because they’ve been in the market and commerce,” he said.
“You can’t go back to what was done 30 years ago but that’s the practical reality for the industry.”
Hilary Jones, ethics director for the U.K.-based cosmetics company Lush, which hosted Duclos’ press conference at its Canadian manufacturing facility, said she was happy with this legislative change but said she wants to see legislators go further, including banning makeup using historic animal-testing data.
“I mean, nothing’s ever far enough for us. We’re extremists. So we would like to see no historic animal data used in testing, in regulatory clearance, because we don’t believe it’s reliable,” she said. “So we’d like to see all cosmetics pass through new methods.”
Animal-rights advocates have also been celebrating the recent passage of Bill S-5, which brings amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to require the federal government to come up with a plan to replace and reduce the use of animals in testing toxic chemicals, like those used in paint and pesticides.
Duclos said those would require significant changes, and the government would be supporting more research investment into finding alternatives for toxic-chemical testing.