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European Union Bans Cosmetics Tested on Animals

Update Date: Mar 11, 2013 02:11 PM EDT

A ban on cosmetics tested on animals will go into effect in Europe today. The European Union says that it will continue to develop new ways of testing that do not involve animals and will encourage other countries, like the United States and China, to adopt similar measures. The ban will apply to all products sold in the 27 countries of the European Union, no matter where the testing has taken place.

The European Union has been progressively cutting back on allowances of animal testing since the 1990s, the AFP reports, and today's ban was first approved in 2004, nearly nine years ago. Since then, the European Union has attempted to give time for cosmetics manufacturers to develop new means of testing, allocating 283 million Euros to the cause between 2007 and 2011. The Commission acknowledges that science has not yet completely caught up to the ban and will continue to find alternative methods for animal testing. Already approved products that were tested on animals may still be sold.

"This is in line with what many European citizens believe firmly: that the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing," the Commission said in a statement.

The Commission's ban is the first time that a government entity has backed such a measure, but private businesses are a step ahead. Japanese giant Shiseido stopped animal testing in its own laboratories two years ago, in 2011. This month, the company announced that it would no longer sell other products that had been tested on animals, with the exception of some tests that are used to prove the safety of products already on the store's shelves.

The cosmetics industry is estimated to be worth $91 billion in Europe, not counting the amount of products that industry giants like L'Orèal export to other countries, Reuters reports. Trade group Cosmetics Europe argues that the ban will place a restriction on development.

"If we want to introduce new ingredients in Europe it's going to be very difficult, because we don't have the tools available to address those endpoints," a Cosmetics Europe spokesman said to Reuters. "The other part of the problem - and this does happen - is where there are questions over existing ingredients. If we can't reformulate, then products that contain those ingredients we will have no choice but to remove from the market."

Other countries are considering following suit. Israel proposed a similar ban earlier this year, while India and South Korea are reportedly considering similar bans.

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