By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
One of our most urgent fights at the federal level centers on passage of the Humane Cosmetics Act in Congress. It’s got strong bipartisan support, cosmetics industry approval and the backing of scientists who understand the limitations of conventional animal tests and are committed to new approaches. We know that its passage will add extraordinary momentum to the worldwide campaign against animal testing. We are also convinced that this is the right time, the right Congress and the right political environment in which to get it over the finish line.
We can’t do it alone: We need your help to make it happen. If you haven’t already done so, please contact your federal elected officials to express your support. And if you have already contacted them, consider following up to ensure that both of your senators and your congressional representative are active and engaged as cosponsors.
The shift away from animal testing for cosmetics and other products has gained great momentum in recent years, and this progress has been driven by a remarkable confluence of factors. Fifty years of campaigning by animal protection advocates has brought once-common procedures, like the Draize rabbit eye irritation test, to the brink of elimination. Consumer demand in the marketplace has spurred the creation of a cruelty-free products sector now valued in the billions. Dynamic and innovative science continues to produce stunning new methods that are more relevant to the human condition and a stronger safety assurance for consumers. Finally, national governments, trade associations and regulatory bodies have embraced the call for clear, consistent and streamlined guidance and protocols for testing.
Popular culture has played an important role in bringing this and other animal issues to the forefront, and it is sometimes unappreciated as a driver of our work. But not this month, as Save Ralph, the stop-motion animation short film produced by Humane Society International, was awarded two prestigious Webby Awards for best Public Service & Activism video. The film, which tells the heartbreaking story of a lovable rabbit who works in a lab as a “tester,” became a viral sensation and strengthened our campaign to forge a path toward a future without animal testing. Save Ralph, produced in five languages and subtitled in many others, has motivated millions of people worldwide to sign HSI petitions to outlaw animal testing in cosmetics—and in Mexico, it propelled a successful legislative initiative to prohibit the practice. The film’s reception has offered the strongest possible proof concerning the power of culture in driving good changes for animals.
And good changes they are. In the United States, we’re making steady gains in multiple legislatures. In recent years, eight states have passed laws ending the sale of cosmetics newly tested on animals, and right now, such measures are pending in a handful of others. We’re on the verge of seeing the New York bill pass into law, and a bill in Louisiana is at the halfway mark in the path to passage. And we’re confident more such bills will pass in the next year, and the next.
Remember, too, that as a consumer, you can vote with your dollars and make your household a showcase for cruelty-free products. There are many such brands in supermarkets and specialty stores, and they’re increasingly easy to find. You can learn more about them at the Leaping Bunny site, sponsored by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, a coalition in which the Humane Society of the United States is a founding member. The coalition promotes a single comprehensive standard for cruelty-free products and the Leaping Bunny logo helps to make animal-friendly shopping easier for those seeking to align their purchasing power with their values.
Despite enormous progress, countless animals continue to suffer and die in cosmetics testing. We have never been closer to ending this terrible toll on animals’ lives, as the success of Save Ralph and the flourishing consumer demand for cruelty-free products makes plain.
It’s clear that a strong federal law to end cosmetics testing in the United States is essential to achieving a global ban. We won’t reach that goal without such a law in place here. That’s why we’ve got to do our part to push the Humane Cosmetics Act across the finish line during the 117th Congress, even as we step up our campaign to secure similar gains in other nations.
Please join us in the effort to make 2022 the year it happens, the year we’ll remember as the one in which we closed the curtain on animal testing for cosmetics and set the stage for a brighter future for animals.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.