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Cruelty Free International asks for candidates’ commitment on phase-out of animal testing in the UK

Cruelty Free International

4 min read Partner content

NGO also calls for animal testing for cosmetics to be made illegal

Animal protection NGO Cruelty Free International is asking all Parliamentary candidates in the General Election to support calls for the government to create a roadmap for the total phase-out of animal testing in the UK – and for animal testing for cosmetics ingredients to be made illegal.

As part of the ‘Pledge Cruelty Free Campaign’ – which can be signed on the Cruelty Free International website – members of the public can ask all Parliamentary candidates in their constituency to make a commitment to put the 1998 ban on testing cosmetics on animals, covering ingredients used either primarily or exclusively in cosmetics, into law; make our homes safer by modernising the system for testing the chemicals that go into the products we use every day, such as food, clothes, household cleaning, furniture, electronic goods, paints and dyes, and removing animals from those tests; and ask that the government create a plan to phase-out animal testing forever, with a minister dedicated to delivering this target across all government departments.

The campaign is a direct response to the government’s decision[2], revealed in May 2023, to secretly abandon the UK’s 1998 ban on animal testing for cosmetics. This information came to light as part of Cruelty Free International’s legal challenge to the Home Office on the UK’s policy on animal testing.

Since this revelation, and following legal pressure exerted by Cruelty Free International, the government has partially reinstated the cosmetics testing ban, to include ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics but, as this only covers approximately 20% of the total ingredients used in cosmetics, that is not enough.

Home Office statistics show that there were over 2.76 million uses of animals in laboratories in Great Britain in 2022[3]. Ten per cent of those are tests required by regulators to assess the safety or effectiveness of chemicals, medicines and other products.

Yet, despite tests which are designed to keep us safe, the pharmaceutical industry is in a silent crisis: 92% of drugs fail in clinical trials even though they passed extensive pre-clinical tests (including animal tests) which suggested that they were safe and effective.

Of the remaining uses of animals in British laboratories in 2022, 45% were in the creation and breeding of genetically altered animals; and a further 29% in basic, curiosity-driven research. Many of these tests, which aren’t required by the regulator and are essentially voluntary, could be removed without very little impact. This should be one of the first areas to be addressed in a comprehensive government led plan to phase out testing on animals. Many other animal tests could be ended immediately, as they are conducted despite already having approved non-animal alternatives available.

Dylan Underhill, Head of Public Affairs, Cruelty Free International, said: “The UK stands at a crossroads in its approach to animal testing. We know that, as a country, we can do so much better in our protection of the millions of animals that suffer and die in laboratories every year.

“Now, as we prepare for a General Election on 4 July, we need all candidates to know the strength of feeling that there is amongst the electorate on this issue, so that the next government will make the right choices for the benefit of the people of the UK, and the animals we all care so much about.

“Animal testing touches our lives in many ways that most of us don’t appreciate, from cosmetics and household products to clothes, furniture, plastics, electronic and white goods, paints, dyes, and food - all of these things can be associated with animal testing on their way to our homes. To stop millions of animals being used in needless and painful tests every year, we need progress and compassion, not the same old status quo. The government must do more to promote alternatives and end the cruel use of animals in science, especially when modern innovations in non-animal methods can produce better results, potentially saving lives and resources.”

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