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January 12, 2015

South Korean Proposal to Modernise Animal Testing Regulations a Welcome Step, but Much More is Needed

Humane Society International’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign calls for a complete ban on animal testing of cosmetics ingredients

Humane Society International, Be Cruelty-Free

  • © imagebroker/Alamy

Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs draft Five Year Plan for Animal Welfare outlining a raft of proposals regarding animal testing was welcomed by Humane Society International’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign. However, #BeCrueltyFree calls for South Korean officials to ensure that a full ban on all animal testing of cosmetics is agreed, including both finished products and ingredients.

The plan follows several years of in-country lobbying by Humane Society International, the Korea Animal Rights Advocates, and others, to modernise regulations. Amongst the proposals are a ban on animal testing for some areas of toxicology such as tobacco and alcohol, mandated use of alternative methods where available, and a phase out of animal testing for finished cosmetic products and ingredients.

However, none of the proposals have yet been agreed, and must next be reviewed by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning as part of a consultation period before being finalised. Significant questions also remain about the impact of suggested cosmetics test ban because in practice finished product animal testing has already been phased out in Korea, no timeline has been suggested for an ingredients testing ban, and it remains unclear whether or not the bans would be contingent on the availability of non-animal alternative methods.

Claire Mansfield, HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaigns director, said: “MAFRA’s Five Year Plan is certainly progress, and a sign that Humane Society International’s several years of lobbying for increased alternatives funding and replacement of animals in toxicology testing is starting to have a real impact. Whilst a Korean ban on finished product animal testing is an important symbolic victory, very few if any animals would actually be spared in practice because, aside from testing for the Chinese market, finished cosmetic product testing on animals ceased more than a decade ago within the global cosmetics industry.

“What we need, and what HSI is working hard to achieve, is a ban on animal testing of cosmetics ingredients because that’s where these animals are suffering. HSI is in discussion with MAFRA and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to ensure that the proposed ban is formally agreed, includes the all-important ingredients test ban, and that both are implemented as quickly as possible.”

Korea’s cosmetics industry shares HSI’s caution. In the Daily Cosmetic journal the Cosmetics Industry Association is reported saying that the plan’s finished product test ban would have limited impact, explaining: “we surveyed our membership brands regarding cosmetics animal testing. Among them, 106 companies replied to our survey saying that they don’t do any animal testing on cosmetics.”

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