Legislator targets animal cosmetics testing

BILATERAL SUPPORT:Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung drew unanimous backing with the move, though an FDA official expressed concern
 
By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter
 
 
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) yesterday said that animals should not be used as test subjects in cosmetics health-risk assessments and proposed an amendment to the Statute for Control of Cosmetic Hygiene (化妝品衛生管理條例) to regulate or ban the practice.
Speaking at a public hearing to gather opinions on the issue, Ting said that with the EU taking the lead by banning animal testing, the international community has abandoned the practice in the development of cosmetics — and Taiwan should follow suit.
“Taiwan, as an export-oriented nation, makes about NT$16 billion [US$504.13 million] annually in cosmetics sales. If we can respond to the global trend, it would bring us many benefits in the marketing of our cosmetic products,” he said.
His remarks won support across the pan-green and pan-blue camps.
KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said more consumers favor products manufactured by conscientious companies and with the world attaching greater importance to animal rights, the proposal would boost Taiwan’s image.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) approved of Chiu’s move.
“We should also extend our care to all living souls in the pursuit of beauty,” she said.
She added that China in June canceled its requirement that imported cosmetics undergo animal tests, and South Korea has pledged 166 billion won (US$1.5 million) to establish a national institute of alternative research methodologies to seek alternatives to animal experiments.
“South Korea made the decision because it recognized the international trend and identified a niche market. Even China, which has a far more complex industrial structure than Taiwan, is willing to make a change. If we do not act soon and become part of the change, our cosmetics industry risks becoming marginalized,” she said.
Humane Society International consultant Chu Hsiao-ting (瞿小婷) said that the linking of cosmetics health-risk assessments with animal tests stemmed from a common misconception.
The blood volumes and body surface areas of humans and animal test subjects vary drastically. As such, experiments done on animals often cannot accurately reflect what reactions a product would have on humans, producing skewed results in the form of false positives and false negatives.
However, Interim Food and Drug Administration director-general Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) expressed concern about the proposed amendment, saying that outlawing animal experiments would cause the nation’s 971 cosmetics companies trouble as they seek alternative ingredients.
Even though the EU has implemented an ordinance barring the use of animal test subjects, it has met with some difficulty enforcing the rules, she said.
She recommended gradual implementation of the policy in the form of an executive order, saying that the amendment proposal “requires further deliberation.”
National Yang-Ming University toxicologist Liu Tsung-yun (劉宗榮) said there are many challenges in the quest for alternative experimentation methods, since there is no known substitute to animal testing in terms of acute toxicity, reproductive toxicity and carcinogenicity tests.
He appealed to legislators to lobby for more funds from the Executive Yuan to aid academics’ research into alternative testing methods.
 
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