Cosmetics are still being tested on animals in the EU, despite a ban that has been in effect in Britain since 1998 and across Europe since 2003.
The Daily Mail reports on a woman called "Jenny Brown" who went undercover a year ago to investigate a lab testing a product called Dysport, which is similar to and a rival of Botox. Dysport, like Botox, paralyzes muscles and is used as a treatment for wrinkles.
Her investigation found mice being routinely injected with more and more Dysport until at least fifty percent of the animals were dead from paralysis and suffocation. This type of procedure is called an LD50 test - so called because it determines the lethal dose for 50 percent of a given population.
Jenny was horrified to witness lab technicians euthanizing the mice who were not expected to live much longer by means of kneeling on the floor and breaking the mouse's neck with a ball point pen. She witnessed technicians botch the procedure and instead break the mouse's back, leaving it writhing in pain with a broken spine.
If a mouse survived the injections and wasn't put on the candidate list for a Bic-facilitated mercy killing, then she had the honor of being gassed with carbon dioxide with hundreds of others. No happy ending here.
The reason why these tests are happening in spite of an EU ban on testing cosmetics on animals gets more complicated the more you learn about it. In the EU, it is legal to test licensed medical products on animals, so the Dysport tests were technically on a medical product that coincidentally can also be prescribed "off-label" as a beauty treatment.
The manufacturer of Dysport refused to comment on what percentage of Dysport was used for cosmetic purposes.
The Dysport scenario is one of several holes in the ban on cosmetic animal testing. The EU recently introduced legislation that requires ingredients in household items be tested (primarily on animals) for safety. This will affect manufacturers of cosmetics that don't test on animals and don't wish to because some of their cosmetics may contain common ingredients. One company has already had to remove an ingredient from their products because it was recently mandated to be tested on animals.
You can currently sell cosmetics in Europe that were tested on animals as long as the tests didn't happen in Europe. A ban on selling any cosmetic tested on animals has been delayed for at least four years. This is still only scraping the surface of the tangled web of international regulations and production safety initiatives.
Most Europeans think that the age when animals were tortured and killed for human vanity was over, but they're wrong. As long as any animal testing is permitted anywhere, we will continue to live in a medical dark age where animals are killed en masse so that we can continue to look young and beautiful.
If we want to end cosmetic animal testing, we must end all animal testing. Only by advancing alternatives to animal testing can we find a solution that is scientifically consistent and ethically sound.