Several constituents have been in touch to ask me to sign EDM 437 on animal testing and cosmetics. As a Government Minister I am unable to sign EDMs but I have looked closely into the issues it raises.  

I am immensely proud that the UK was the first country in the world to ban cosmetics testing in animals, which was implemented on a voluntary basis in 1998. The UK was also instrumental in introducing this ban across Europe under the 2009 cosmetics regulations, and it has been illegal to test cosmetics or their intended ingredients on animals, in the EU since 2010. In addition, a ban on the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals came into force in 2010.  

I can assure you that the Government maintains a strong commitment to maintaining a rigorous regulatory system under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). The regulatory system ensures that animal research and testing is carried out only where no practicable alternative exists, and under controls which keep suffering to the minimum.  

This is achieved through robustly applying the principles of the 3Rs that Replace, Reduce and Refine the use of animals in research. The 3Rs require that:

  • in every research proposal that is submitted to the Home Office, animals are replaced with non-animal alternatives wherever possible

  • the number of animals used is reduced to the minimum needed to achieve the results sought

  • for those animals which must be used, procedures are refined as much as possible to minimise their suffering.

Ongoing UK-led efforts through funding from the National Centre for the 3Rs are encouraging greater global uptake of these techniques. The National Centre has been leading the way in this area, and has already invested over £35 million to support this work. As a result, trials into cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, as well as toxicity testing, have all seen reductions in animal use.

In terms of the UK's international leadership on this issue, the Government is always keen to encourage the sharing of knowledge and best practice with other countries, in order to support the ending of cosmetics testing on animals in favour of alternatives across the world.