I got an e-mail from someone asking about the testing of cosmetics on animals. Well, I say asking. They had done a lot of research and it sounded more like they were telling me that cosmetics are tested on animals in effect because of legislation that requires all new chemicals to be tested for safety.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond at first. The animal rights people are well known to be extremely forthright and some of them resort to pretty robust methods. I don’t want to end up getting my car blown up. I also don’t want to be hypocritical. So let me say that if I thought that the testing of cosmetics on animals was necessary to ensure their safety I would support it. It doesn’t seem any more cruel to animals to use them in this kind of way than to cut them up and eat them, which most of us do every day. People are going to use cosmetics, and they need to be safe. I have no desire to harm animals but I don’t want people using harmful products either.
But as a scientist who develops cosmetics I have never felt the slightest need for data generated on animals. I have never had to wrestle with any moral dilemmas simply because I don’t see any need for testing on animals in the first place for the purposes of developing cosmetics. There have been legislative requirements in some countries that have meant lots of testing has had to be done to comply with the law. (I am pretty sure this has never been the case in the UK as it happens.) Legislators are not very good at science generally. In California they seem determined to take no notice of it all. But as things stand the EU has now banned any testing of cosmetic products using animals. Hopefully this is an issue we can now all forget about.