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2002-06-11 15:15:45
Animal testing ban

The cosmetics industry faces the threat of a Europe-wide ban on the marketing of all new products unless it introduces alternatives to tests on animals.

The European Parliament today (Tuesday) united across party lines to push through a demand that a marketing ban be introduced five years after the passage of legislation. MEPs meeting in Strasbourg accepted that a further five years should be given to three of the 14 groups of tests while alternatives are developed.

The move will place the Parliament on a collision course with EU ministers who have so far refused to back more than a ban on testing animals within the EU. Animal welfare campaigners claim this will simply transfer the testing to other countries.

But Euro-MPs, who have equal decision-making powers with ministers on the issue, say the way is now open to achieve a negotiated final agreement by the end of the year.

Southport MEP Chris Davies, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on consumer affairs, said: "The public has made clear that it wants an end to animals having to suffer for no better reason than the production of more vanity products such as shampoos and face lotions. Further delay by the cosmetics industry can no longer be accepted.

"Bathroom shelves across Europe are already packed with thousands of cosmetics products. If the price to be paid to end animal cruelty is that consumers have to do without yet another new deodorant, or even bubblier bubble baths, then it is one worth paying.

"The plan agreed today is ambitious but realistic. It will step up pressure on the cosmetics industry but not create insurmountable difficulties. We now have the basis for a long term agreement to end this debate once and for all."

The cosmetics industry is said to be divided over the Parliament's move, with Unilever supporting the MEPs' stand but L'Oreal continuing to voice its opposition. Animal rights campaigners have expressed disappointment that the compromise would permit three groups of tests - for reproductive toxicity, repeated-dose toxicity and toxicokinetics - to continue for more than five years.

EU Ministers, led by British Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt, argue that a marketing ban would conflict with World Trade Organisation rules. However, this view is strongly contested by WTO experts within the European Parliament, who believe that the existing US ban on imports of dog and cat fur demonstrates that no challenge would be mounted.

Article submitted by A.Cutting on behalf of Chris Davies MEP.
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