Animal cruelty in cosmetics testing gets Duma scrutiny

© Viktor Korotayev AS / SN
Russian MPs, backed by animal rights activists, have prepared a bill that aims to replace the testing of cosmetics on animals with alternative, non-cruel methods.

Deputy head of the lower house Committee for Agriculture, Sergey Doronin (Fair Russia), and MP Igor Igoshin (United Russia) have told Izvestia daily that they prepared a draft law “On banning the quality control of perfumes, cosmetics and their ingredients on animals.”

Lawmakers noted in comments that at present moment very few laws in Russia deal with cruel treatment of animals and cosmetics testing on lab animals falls exactly under this category. They said their bill had been prompted by numerous addresses from animal rights groups and called upon the community to follow the example of the EU nations that banned the practice in 2009, and in 2013 stopped importing products developed with the use of testing on animals.

Doronin told reporters that by introducing the law on animals rights the lawmakers would prevent a situation in which Russia remains in the same economic field as third world countries that continue to test their products on animals. Acting in accordance with modern European standards would allow Russian perfumes and cosmetics to enter European markets, he noted.

Igoshin said that animal rights activists had launched a petition in support of the ban and it had already gathered over 200,000 signatures of supporters.

Both main sponsors of the bill also noted that the alternative methods of testing – using animal or human cells and tissues instead of live specimens – were faster and cheaper than tests with lab animals.

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Another poor animal rights situation is that while many countries of Europe, America and Asia ban the use of animals in circuses, the practice is still widespread in Russia. It also still has so-called baiting stations where live wild animals are used for training hunting dogs, Doronin said. He did not elaborate if he and his colleagues were planning to tackle that issue in the nearest future.

However, executive director of the Russian Perfumes and Cosmetics Association Aleksandra Skorobogatova said in comments over the initiative that Russia lacked the hardware that would allow the industry to stop using tests on animals and setting up such facilities could take years. Without proper technical backing the ban could lead to release of potentially hazardous products on the market, she said.

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In March, a Russian Communist Party MP drafted a bill ordering the doubling of the minimum punishment for cruelty to animals, citing requests from concerned citizens and groups and also experts’ claims that those who are cruel to animals can become dangerous to people. This initiative has not yet gained the parliament’s approval.