UK Government’s weak version of ban on animal tests


News report below from Animal Aid, 12 March 2015:

Campaigners have criticised the UK Government for introducing a weakened version of its promised ban on animal testing for household products. The ‘ban’, which is set to come into force in October, will make it illegal to test finished household products on animals, but exceptions could be made for the testing of ingredients. In practice, it is the ingredients and not the finished products that are usually tested on animals. The government’s announcement also contains details of products to which the restrictions don’t apply, including those intended for use in an institutional setting, such as schools and hospitals.

The government’s pledge to ban household product testing on animals was included in the 2010 coalition agreement. In an answer to a parliamentary question in March 2011, the relevant minister made it clear that the ban would apply to ingredients as well as finished products. Animal Aid, together with other animal protection groups, has spent several years lobbying for the full ban to be implemented as promised and had been assured of a positive outcome. It is only very recently that the intention to implement a weakened version of the ban has come to light.

Says Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

‘We are deeply disappointed that the coalition government has broken yet another promise to strengthen protection for animals in UK labs. By proposing a weak and toothless version of its promised ban, it continues to sanction the infliction of appalling suffering on animals for the sake of trivial products such as washing up liquids and floor cleaners. We will continue to push for a full ban on this cruel and scientifically unreliable practice.’

Animal tests for household products involve a disturbing level of suffering, resulting from force-feeding through tubes from throat to stomach, dripping substances into animals’ eyes, or rubbing them onto shaved patches of skin. Fundamental differences between species mean that such tests are an unreliable means of predicting how humans will react to potentially harmful substances. Bleach, for example, causes only mild irritation to rabbits’ skin, but severe irritation to human skin.

The failure to introduce a full ban on animal testing for household products represents the government’s second broken vivisection-related promise. It also pledged to reduce the number of animals used in experiments, but the total has continued to rise during the five years the coalition has been in power, and is now at its highest level since the current recording system began.