Cosmetics makers going cruelty-free

2013-04-22 : 16:52
Wearing masks, activists from the advocacy group Korea Association for Animal Protection stage an anti-animal testing protest in front of a building of a cosmetic company based in Yongsan-Gu, Seoul in this file photo.
                                              / Courtesy of Korea Association for Animal Protection

By Kang Hyun-kyung

Cosmetics companies are coming under growing pressure from the legislature and civic groups to stop testing their products on animals, following recent bans of the practice in the European Union.

Animal rights groups are campaigning against companies which perform animal testing. Lawmakers are also seeking to establish legal grounds to bar cosmetic companies from conducting animal testing.

The Seoul-based Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) said Monday it will disclose an updated list of cosmetic companies that do not test their products on animals on the occasion of the World Day for Animals in Laboratories, on Wednesday.

Seo Borami, a KARA activist, said several cosmetic companies will be newly included on the list.

“Amore Pacific has made the list this year. The company was not on the list last year because it failed to confirm whether all ingredients of its products were also cruelty-free,” she told The Korea Times.

Amore Pacific, the cosmetics giant, scrapped animal testing on its final products in 2008.

In March, the company announced its commitment to end business partnerships with firms providing ingredients that have confirmed links to animal testing.

However, LG Household and Healthcare Products won’t be on the list, with the exception of its natural brand Beyond, despite the company’s announcement in 2012 that it would impose a ban on animal testing.    

“We checked with LG staffers if all ingredients of their 14 brands are cruelty-free but the company told us it’s technically difficult to confirm that because they use hundreds of ingredients to produce their products.”

Missha, a popular mid-sized cosmetics company, also failed to make the list.

Since launching the cruelty-free list last April, KARA has continued to update the list based on cosmetic companies’ responses to their inquiries. Cosmetics products made by small manufacturers, such as Royal Nature, dominated last year’s list.

 No regulations  

Currently no specific guidelines on animal testing are in place in Korea.

Animal testing for medicines and cosmetics has been carried out at the expense of about 1.51 million animals, including mice and rabbits, in Korea. Worldwide, 100 million animals are killed every year for this purpose.  

To meet international standards, lawmakers are seeking to pass bills banning animal testing of cosmetics.

Rep. Kim Yung-rok of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) submitted a revised bill calling for the ban on the testing of cosmetic products on animals.

Kim’s aide said it is only a matter of time for the bill to pass the National Assembly.

“I believe the members of the National Assembly agriculture committee will pass the bill without major difficulties this year. A bipartisan consensus is in the making, and there is no opposition from the government,” the aide said.

The proposal of the bill coincided with the EU’s ban in March on imports and distribution of products that have been tested on animals.

As a direct consequence of this recent ban, exports of Amore Pacific and other domestic cosmetics brands have been affected.

The EU is the only region that blocks the trade of cosmetics that use animal testing.