THE BLOG

Brazil Passes Historic Bill to Ban Cosmetics Animal Testing but Loopholes Must Be Closed

09/06/2014 14:35 BST | Updated 07/08/2014 10:59 BST

Brazil has just taken a key stride forward on the road to becoming the first Latin American country to ban animal testing for cosmetics. The Chamber of Deputies passed Bill 6602/13 following more than a year of public and political lobbying led by Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free Brazil campaign.

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Be Cruelty-Free Brazil and Dep. Izar at the Chamber of Deputies the day the Bill was voted

The vote of an animal protection Bill in the Congress is a rare event. We should savour this victory that puts Brazil on the path to join the 28 member states of the European Union, as well as Norway, Israel and India, countries that have rejected these unethical tests.

Since we launched our Be Cruelty-Free Brazil campaign two years ago, we have led the call for a country free of cosmetics cruelty. Working hand in hand with our fellow Brazilian animal group partners, we have galvanised public support through petitions, celebrity support, street art and demonstrations, and encouraged policy makers to grasp this opportunity to put Brazil on the cruelty-free map. And they have listened. Our national campaign has created the momentum, but it is the tenacity of Be Cruelty-Free supporter Deputado Ricardo Izar that has driven this Bill through. And let us not forget the pioneering role that the State of São Paulo took when it introduced its own cosmetic animal test ban back in January.

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Be Cruelty-Free Brazil campaigners present thousands of petition signatures to the Government

So there is much cause for celebration, but a closer look at the wording of the text voted in the Chamber also clearly shows us that our job is not done yet.

The Bill was the product of negotiation with the government, and contains some unfortunate loopholes that need to be urgently closed or risk leaving Brazil's laboratory animals vulnerable to testing. While it prohibits animal testing of most cosmetic ingredients and products, it doesn't include "ingredients with unknown effects". That's a potentially serious omission because this category could constitute a considerable amount of future animal testing.

Indeed, potentially any chemical, including those already on the market, may have some unknown effects on humans or the environment. Animals have been considered the "gold standard" in toxicology for decades, despite the fact that the animal model fails to reliably predict effects on humans and other species. This is the very reason why 17 high-ranking scientists supported our campaign in an open letter to the government. The grey area of "unknown effects" undetected by previous animal tests means it's time for the cosmetics sector to move on to better, state-of-the-art non-animal methods. Lawmakers must resist this exemption, included in the Bill by the government. We believe a ban on animal testing of cosmetics must mean all cosmetics.

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Brazilian street artist Waleska Nomura

The Bill also fails to prohibit the sale of newly animal-tested cosmetics, meaning companies will still be able to circumvent the national test ban by testing their cosmetics on animals abroad and selling the products back in Brazil. Before the vote, Deputado Domingo Sávio lent his support to our proposal for a marketing ban and proposed an amendment that would have achieved just that. However, it was rejected by the President of the Chamber much to his and our disappointment. We are determined to succeed at the next stage of negotiations. We believe that animal testing banned in Brazil's laboratories must also be banned from Brazil's shop shelves.

Now that the Chamber of Deputies has voted in favour of a test ban, next we need the Senate to also support us. So HSI's Be Cruelty-Free Brazil team is now working with the Senate and all parties involved to close the loopholes and proceed to what we hope will be a successful Senate vote.

We have good reason for optimism. While the urgent procedure used in the Chamber of Deputies had the advantage of allowing for a speedy vote without debates in the commissions, such a fast pace has made it very difficult for members to take the time needed to carefully analyse the Bill, discuss the issue in depth and table amendments to make it the best Bill possible for animals, science and consumers alike. In the Senate, however, we will have ample opportunity to assist the legislative process with our expertise and address these unresolved issues. We're confident that we can end cosmetics cruelty for animals in Brazil.

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Be Cruelty-Free Brazil Ambassador, super-model Fernanda Tavares

Brazil is one of the largest and most vibrant cosmetics markets in the world, so achieving a cruelty-free victory here is critically important to our global Be Cruelty-Free goal - a world without cosmetics animal testing.

As country by country we move one step closer to achieving that goal, those countries and companies that continue to test cosmetics on animals are becoming increasingly isolated and exposed. Consumers have made it clear that they want beauty without cruelty, a kinder world where it is not acceptable to hurt animals to produce new lipsticks or hair dyes. Hundreds of cosmetics companies globally have long since turned their backs on animal testing and embraced safe, innovative, cruelty-free manufacturing. But for as long as other companies refuse to do so, we'll continue to see laws changed to protect animals from their cosmetics cruelty.

Stay in touch with the Be Cruelty-Free campaign at hsi.org and on Facebook.