European Union’s Ban on Animal Testing for Cosmetics to Begin in March

The ban will affect all toiletries and beauty products, from makeup to soap to toothpaste

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It’s been a long and rather divisive journey, but at last, the European Union will prohibit the import and sale of animal tested cosmetics, effective March 11. The ban will affect all toiletries and beauty products, from makeup to soap to toothpaste, according to PR Newswire.

Back in 2003, the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the ban after 10 years of negotiations — although lawmakers initially agreed to begin enforcing it in 2009. Industry lobbyists managed to delay the ban for a few more years, but now, it seems it’s finally official. European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg confirmed in an open letter to animal testing campaigners: “I believe that the ban should enter into force in March 2013 as Parliament and Council have already decided. I am therefore not planning to propose a postponement or derogation to the ban.”

(MORE: How Much Does Animal Testing Tell Us?)

Animal rights activists are, of course, lauding the ban. “This is truly an historic event and the culmination of over 20 years of campaigning,” Michelle Thew, chief executive of advocacy group Cruelty Free International, said in a statement. “Now we will apply our determination and vision on a global stage to ensure that the rest of the world follows this lead.”

And indeed, it seems a widespread ban on animal tested products could be much more likely than it was just a few years ago. On January 1st, Israel instated a similar ban on the import, sale and marketing of animal tested cosmetics and household cleaners. However, other countries, like China, continue to rely heavily on animal testing. But who knows? As the European Union’s ban takes effect next month, more regions may eventually follow suit.

MORE: Swine Flu Shows Need for Better Animal Testing