Before we dive into the animal testing laws in India, here is an Act with which we need to get acquainted – The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. This Act of the Parliament of India regulates the manufacture, distribution, and import of cosmetics and drugs in India. Its primary aim is to ensure that the drugs and cosmetics sold in India are safe, effective, and meet standards of quality as established by the Act.
Another name to remember is CPCSEA, or The Committee for the Purpose of Supervision of Experiments on Animals. This body, formed under Section 15(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, is responsible for ensuring that ‘animals are not subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering before, during or after performance of experiments on them’.
Now, the good news.
Since 2013, India has banned the testing of cosmetic products sold in the country, making it the first country in South Asia to do so. Not only this, India has also banned the import of cosmetics that have been tested on animals abroad! tweet
Let us say that again – according to the animal testing laws in India, the use of animal testing for all cosmetic products manufactured in India is banned, as is the import of products that have been tested on animals. The ban applies not only to the finished product, but also the ingredients. Therefore, if a brand does not test its final products on animals, but does test the ingredients – definitely not cruelty-free and very much banned in India.
I don’t really use makeup, so I don’t have to worry about this.
The CPCSEA defines cosmetics as any article intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, or introduced into, or otherwise applied to, the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance, and includes any article intended for use as a component of cosmetic. So even if you are the no-lipstick, no mascara, gorgeous-as-you-are kind of person, that moisturizer you use to bring relief to cracked skin on a cold winter day is also, by definition, a cosmetic.
India has also banned animal-testing of soaps and detergents manufactured in India. We haven’t yet taken the leap to ban the import of such goods that have been tested on animals abroad, but at the pace at which we’ve been moving, we shouldn’t be far off from this.
Below is a timeline of India’s cruelty-free journey.
In June 2013, a landmark decision was taken at a meeting of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Cosmetics Sectional Committee, chaired by the Drugs Controller General of India –
Animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients was outlawed pan India, making India the first country in South Asia to end lab-aided cosmetics cruelty. tweet
The test ban was finalized when the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014 was notified through Gazette no: 346 (E), post completion of a 45 day public consultation. Violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act by any person, corporate manager , or owner is liable for punishment for a term which may extend from 3 to 10 years or shall be liable to a fine which could be Rs.500 to Rs.10,000, or both.
This decision mandated the use of modern non-animal alternative tests to replace invasive tests on animals. Therefore, any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must first seek the approval from India’s regulator Central Drug Standards Control Organisation. A manufacturer will be given approval to test only after complying with the BIS non-animal standards.
A sales ban would prevent companies from outsourcing testing and importing animal-tested beauty products back into India for sale. By now, an import ban proposal was also introduced and put forward for public consultation by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Early in the year, India introduced prohibitions against in-country use of animals to test cosmetics and removed animal tests from the approval requirements for bringing “soaps and other surface active agents” to market in India. Subsequently, animal testing in pharmacy education courses was banned, and such tests were replaced by computer-assisted modules.
In November 2014, compassionate consumers and animal rights activists rejoiced as India banned the import of cosmetics tested on animals. tweet
In the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, after rule 135-A, the following rule was inserted:- “135-B. Prohibition of import of cosmetics tested on animals.- No cosmetic that has been tested on animals after the commencement of the Drugs and Cosmetics (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2014 shall be imported into the country.
In March 2016, The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare passed an amendment to Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
This amendment would spare countless animals from testing for new drug registrations when complete data from earlier toxicity experiments already exist for drugs approved abroad. tweet
Progressive scientists welcomed this decision, as they were already in the midst of developing sophisticated non-animal testing techniques that would be far more effective, speedier, economic, and provide more human-relevant results. One such development is organs-on-chips, that replicates human physiology, diseases, and drug responses more accurately than animal experiments.
A month later, in April 2016, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi along with the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare established the prohibition of animal testing for household products manufactured in India. This information was communicated via circular under the Environment Ministry, issued by the CPCSEA.
The CPCSEA prohibits the manufacturers of soaps and detergents in India from carrying out any experiments of animals, making India the second country in Asia to declare such a ban. tweet
This comes as a result of a 2014 petition filed by PETA in collaboration with Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), to remove tests on animals from the testing standards for household products such as soaps, detergents and other cosmetics. However, this rule does not cover household products manufactured abroad, which means that soaps, detergents, and household cleaners that have been tested on animals continue to be imported.
This is great, but why should I be worried about brands testing on animals when we’ve banned it?
Unfortunately, while the animal testing laws in India are quite strong, brands continue to manufacture and sell in countries where animal testing is compulsory even today. An example of such a country is China. A popular brand such as Dove is able to sell its products in India, because the brand cannot and does not conduct animal testing on products for sale within India. However, it complies with the mandatory animal testing policy of China, as it is also sold there, and is therefore, not cruelty-free.
Such loopholes can be quite confusing, and can mislead compassionate shoppers into buying from brands that seem cruelty-free, but really aren’t. That’s why The Alternative Curator will ensure that our cruelty-free brand list is as transparent and up-to-date as possible, and if ever there’s a seemingly grey area, we’ll let you know. We promise!