Government is currently seeking public comment on a new bill which seeks to criminalise the use of animals in testing cosmetics and their ingredients.
Under the Animals Protection Amendment Bill, any person who tests a cosmetic on an animal; or fails to make available sufficient space in an environment that adequately corresponds to the physiological and ethological needs of the animal, will be liable to a fine not exceeding R40,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years.
Where the “person” is a company, every director or prescribed officer of the company who knowingly was a party to the contravention will be liable to the same fine.
The Bill also seeks to ban the sale or manufacture of products in South Africa which have been developed using animal testing.
“Although the people of South Africa, and indeed our highest courts, recognise the plight of animals and the need to protect them from abuses by humans, some practices persist,” the Bill’s attached memorandum states.
“Testing on animals is kept strictly secret because of the highly competitive industries involved and includes processes like forced inhalation of chemicals; exposure to chemicals at levels that cause illness or death; electric shock or forced swimming.”
“Although it is accepted that there are not sufficient alternatives yet to justify a total ban of testing on animals, measures should be put in place to ensure that such testing is only done when no other alternative exists.
“Furthermore, animals kept in laboratories are at times kept in small spaces that do not make sufficient provision for the animals’ physiological and ethological needs, causing their whole existence to be one of suffering.
“Where no alternative for testing on animals exists, provision should at least be made for these animals to be kept in appropriate enclosures,” it aid.
According to the Bill, here are currently no known laboratories in South Africa that test cosmetics on animals.
The European Union (28 States), India, Israel, Guatemala and Norway have already formally banned the testing of cosmetics on animals as well as the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals outside of their borders; New Zealand, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Korea, USA and Taiwan are in the process of passing laws to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals.
This means that 1 of the BRICS partners (India) already has legislation in place to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals and one (Brazil) is following suit.
According to a 2013 report by IOL, the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals is still legal, and unregulated in South Africa despite being banned across the EU.
“Animal testing is quite legal in South Africa, and is conducted at most universities, the Medical Research Council, other research facilities and private laboratories,” said Beryl Scott, national chairwoman of Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa.
“The problem is that there are no statistics available (in South Africa) regarding the type of tests being conducted, the numbers of animals and species being used or areas of research,” she said.