Last week the cruelty free blogging world was buzzing about a potential ban on animal testing in South Korea. What many blogs were posting was that animal testing on finished products was going to be banned. I did a lot of digging and could not find conclusive documentation to show that this was the case. In fact, very few reputable organizations were reporting that South Korea had changed their animal testing stance, much less implemented a ban on animal testing.
At the same time that I was digging, Humane Society International (HSI) reached out to me with an update from their end. HSI has always been very research driven and detail oriented. When it comes to organizations, I honestly can say that I trust their research about animal testing policies and changes more than that of any other organization.
What is important to know is that a five year plan has been proposed that, if passed, would potentially phase out animal testing for finished cosmetic products. This is part of one of several five year plans that have been proposed. There is no guarantee that this specific five year plan would be implemented. These proposed five year plans are now being reviewed by several departments before they would then potentially move forward with one. At this time, none of the proposed five year plans have been enacted and neither has a South Korea animal testing ban of any sort.
What is also important to note is that, in South Korea, most of the animal testing occurs on ingredients and not finished products. The large majority of brands there have already phased out animal testing on finished cosmetic products. A real impact would be made if a ban on animal testing on ingredients was put into place.
Continue reading to find out more about the South Korean animal testing ban – what changes have been proposed and what they would impact.
Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty
Humane Society International Update from #BeCrueltyFree South Korea
Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has produced a draft Five Year Plan for Animal Welfare which outlines a raft of proposals regarding animal testing. Amongst the proposals are a ban on animal testing for some areas of toxicology such as tobacco and alcohol, mandated use of alternative methods where available, and a phase out of animal testing for finished cosmetic products and ingredients.
The Plan follows several years of in-country lobbying by Humane Society International, the Korea Animal Rights Advocates, and others, to modernise regulations. However, as none of the proposals have yet been agreed, and must next be reviewed by the MFDA, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning as part of a consultation period before being finalised, it would be premature to welcome a ‘ban’.
Significant questions also remain about the impact of suggested cosmetics test bans because in practice finished product animal testing has already been phased out in Korea, no timeline has been suggested for an ingredients testing ban, and it remains unclear whether or not the bans would be contingent on the availability of non-animal alternative methods.
Claire Mansfield, HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree Campaigns Director, said: “MAFRA’s Five Year Plan is certainly progress, and a sign that HSI’s several years of lobbying for increased alternatives funding and replacement of animals in toxicology testing is starting to have a real impact. But it would be premature to claim a victory for animals used to test cosmetics just yet, as no bans have actually been finalised let alone implemented. Whilst a Korean ban on finished product animal testing is an important symbolic victory, very few if any animals would actually be spared in practice because, aside from testing for the Chinese market, finished cosmetic product testing on animals ceased more than a decade ago within the global cosmetics industry.
“What we need, and what HSI is working hard to achieve, is a ban on animal testing of cosmetics ingredients because that’s where these animals are suffering. HSI is in discussion with MAFRA and the MFDA to ensure that the proposed ban is formally agreed, includes the all-important ingredients test ban, and that both are implemented as quickly as possible. There is a danger in congratulating industry and policy makers too soon before they’ve actually delivered meaningful change for animals, so we’d advise being cautious but we certainly have encouraging signs.”
#BeCrueltyFree Korea’s campaign team on the ground in Seoul is in regular direct contact with government ministries and cosmetics companies to negotiate a bill to ban animal testing of cosmetics ingredients. Borami Seo, #BeCrueltyFree Korea campaigner, explains: “Cosmetics companies are all too aware that finished product animal testing isn’t happening here in Korea, so a ‘ban’ on such testing would have no impact on them day to day. We need to make sure that the much-needed ban on animal testing of ingredients isn’t now kicked into the long grass.”