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Mexico: Animal Testing Ban for Cosmetics

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Jenny Donath reports about the new progress in the fight against animal testing.

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Mexico has become the 41st country in the world to ban animal testing for cosmetic products, including the marketing and import of cosmetics that have previously been tested on animals in other countries.

Mexico’s decision to legalise the bill has been influenced by the non-profit organisation Human Society International (HSI) and the animal-welfare organisation Te Protejo. With support from cosmetic industries like Lush and L’Oreal, HSI and Te Protego have said:

“We are thrilled to see Mexico become the first country in North America to outlaw cosmetic animal testing, and commend our bill sponsor Senator Ricardo Monreal, and all congressmen and women for voting to end cosmetic animal testing in Mexico.”

With representatives across the globe, HSI is currently leading several campaigns to advocate the well-being of animals and promote animal-free testing methods. For instance, they released an animated film about a tester bunny – ‘Save Ralph’ – to raise awareness of the cruel procedures that animals must still undergo for cosmetics. HSI points out that several easier, cheaper, and more humane alternatives are available and can be used to create products that neither pose health hazards for humans nor exploit animals.

Why is Animal Testing Being Criticised?

Animal testing for cosmetic products has been criticised more and more frequently over the last years. Many animals are sentient beings capable of experiencing feelings like pleasure, distress, and pain. Every year, millions of animals — mainly mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs — are held in small cages and suffer from loneliness, stress, and fear, while they are forced to undergo painful experiments to evaluate whether products can be released for sale to the public.

Acute toxicity testing is one of those cruel procedures. The animals are either forced to inhale, eat, or come into contact with high doses of substances to examine whether it could pose a danger to humans. Side effects often include seizures, bleeding, or abdominal pain to an extent that eventually leads to the death of the animal.

One of the most-common tests is the LD50 test, for which increasing amounts of a given substance are forcefully fed to animals. The dose is increased repeatedly to predict possible effects of the chemicals in humans. Other tests determine the impact of a product on the eyes and skin (Eye and Skin Irritation and Corrosion Test) — causing side effects such as swollen eyelids, inflamed skin, or blindness — or to assess the risk of allergic reactions and infertility. All tests mean that the animals must endure a lot of pain and suffering.

Alternatives to Animal Testing

Instead of harming animals during the procedure, there are various alternative tests that don’t include animals. For instance, cell and tissue cultures or reconstructed skin can be used to analyse possible effects of chemicals on the human body; and a specific computer module can be used to predict the effects of a chemical based on pre-existing data. These tests are not only a humane alternative to animal testing, but they are also cheaper and provide more accurate results. For example, some animal tests have been found to be only 65% accurate, whereas human cell-line tests, which assess the risk of potential skin sensitivity to chemicals, are 75-80% accurate.

More and more cosmetic industries are beginning to switch to cruelty-fee methods. In Chile, a bill to ban animal testing for cosmetic purposes has passed the initial stage. In August this year, the Chilean health commission has voted unanimously to review the bill in further depth. Furthermore, several surveys undertaken by HSI have shown that many consumers are against the exploitation of animals for cosmetic products. Earlier this year, around 90% of surveyed people in South Africa expressed support towards the ban of animal-tested products.

With Mexico being the first country in North America to ban animal-cruel testing, they might be able to serve as an example for other countries to follow. Antón Aguilar, who is the Executive Director of the Mexican HSI described it as “a monumental step forward for animals, […] and brings us one bunny-leap closer to a global ban”.


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