HC Deb 18 November 2003 vol 413 cc820-1W
Mr. Etherington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many laboratory animals were used in the United Kingdom for the potency testing of batches of botulinum toxin for cosmetic purposes in each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement on Government policy on animal tests for cosmetic products. [136516]

Caroline Flint

Botulinum toxin is not a cosmetic for the purposes of the EU Cosmetics Directive, and no animals have been used to test this material for marketing as a cosmetic in the United Kingdom. It is, however, produced, tested on animals and marketed for clinical use as a prescription only medicine.

The Government, the cosmetic manufacturers and the contract research organisations agreed a voluntary ban on the animal testing of all cosmetics (based upon the EU definition) in November 1997. This voluntary ban applied both to cosmetic ingredients and finished products.

We are committed to putting an end to testing cosmetics on animals across Europe and have led the way and worked hard for many years to try to achieve that. The Government have strongly supported the 7th Amendment on the Cosmetics Directive which was approved by the European Parliament in Plenary on 15 January and by the Council on 27 January 2003. The adopted text extends what has been almost solely a UK ban on testing cosmetic products and ingredients to cover animals throughout the EU.

An animal testing ban on finished products will be introduced immediately after the Directive enters force in 2005, followed by an animal testing ban on ingredients in 2006. The Government welcomes the introduction of an EU wide testing ban as an important and positive step to achieving real improvements in animal welfare standards across the European Community.

The 7th Amendment will also, in due course, introduce a marketing ban. This will mean that cosmetics cannot be marketed in the EU if animal tests have been carried out on either the finished product, or an ingredient or combination of ingredients, once an alternative to that test has been accepted and published by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), and not at all after 2009. This ban will apply regardless of whether or not the animal testing took place in the EU. There will be very limited exceptions to the 2009 deadline. The Department of Trade and Industry leads on policy in this area.

Through our contributions to the European Union, we support the work of ECVAM, whose role is to co-ordinate the independent evaluation of the relevance and reliability of tests and validation studies, so that cosmetics products, as well as medicines, vaccines, other biologicals, medical devices, household products and agricultural products, can be manufactured, transported and used more economically and more safety whilst the current reliance on animal test procedures is progressively reduced.

We also support the Test Guidelines Programme of the Organisation of Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) which should enable alternative methods to be accepted internationally and with minimum delay.