03/18/2014 05:34 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Our Policy On Animal Testing is Distinctly Un-Canadian

It's 2014, and animals are still being blinded, poisoned and killed to test new beauty products or their ingredients.

A year ago this month, Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign celebrated a landmark victory, as Europe became the world's first cruelty-free cosmetics market by banning the testing of beauty products and their ingredients on animals, as well as the sale of products that have been animal tested in other parts of the world.

A few months later, we were successful in convincing India to enact its own testing ban, which spurred regulatory progress in China and South Korea. More recently, the Brazilian state of São Paulo passed its own cosmetics animal testing ban. And just two weeks ago, a federal bill was introduced in the United States with the backing of HSI's sister organization to bring the country into line with the cruelty-free trend that's sweeping the globe.

Where does that leave Canada, you ask? With some catching up to do.

Canadian policy on animal testing for cosmetics has yet to catch up with our ethics and values as a nation. A November 2012 poll by The Strategic Counsel on behalf of Animal Alliance of Canada and HSI revealed that 88 percent of Canadians agree that testing new cosmetic products is not worth the animals' pain and suffering, and that 81 percent would support a national ban on animal testing of cosmetics and their ingredients.

When one considers the nature of the tests forced on these animals by cosmetic manufacturers and ingredient suppliers, it becomes painfully clear why the calls for change have been so widespread. 1940s-era skin and eye irritation tests are still in use -- in which chemicals are rubbed on to the shaved skin of restrained rabbits, or dripped into their eyes, without pain relief. Cosmetic ingredients are orally force-fed to animals for weeks or months on end to determine general illness or specific health hazards. Perhaps most horrifically, "lethal dose" tests force animals to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death. At the end of the tests, the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.

There simply is no excuse for allowing this unnecessary suffering to continue. Science and ethics have moved on. More than 500 cruelty-free companies in North America avoid animal testing by relying on thousands of existing cosmetic ingredients already established as safe, with available state-of-the-art non-animal test methods. It's a cruelty-free blueprint that makes ending cosmetics animal suffering the world over not only possible, but preferable. Modern science and ingredients with histories of use should instill consumers with far greater confidence than force-feeding small animals with mega-doses of chemicals in tests that were first developed more than 70 years ago.

On this, the one-year anniversary of the landmark European ban, we're celebrating Be Cruelty-Free Week in Canada, and encouraging Canadians to get active in calling on our government to put an end to cosmetics cruelty. Get the facts with our new multilingual infographic; check out our new video, featuring well known cruelty-free beauty bloggers Pirouette Makeup, tyrannosauruslexxx, Vegan Beauty Review, My Beauty Bunny, Phyrra Nyx and Logical Harmony; learn more about corporate partners Lippy Girl (a home-grown Canadian cruelty-free cosmetics companies) and LUSH, who all join the call for the government of Canada to make this long-overdue policy change. And finally, take action by signing the pledge at

It is our hope and goal that by this time next year, with the support of compassionate Canadians, the Government of Canada will introduce an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act that bans both the testing of cosmetic products and ingredients on animals, as well as the sale of cosmetic products or ingredients subject to new animal tests after a fixed cut-off date. If it does, Canada will join the growing number of countries turning their back on beauty through cruelty, improving consumer safety and animal welfare in one go.

Some policy decisions can be very difficult. This one shouldn't be. The Canadian people are strongly behind this issue, and are looking to their government for meaningful action that will put us on the right side of history on this issue. The world will be watching what Canada does next.

Be Cruelty-Free Canada is part of the largest multinational campaign in history to end cosmetics animal testing, with branches in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan and the United States.


Animal Welfare In 2012, Via The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies