Op-Ed: Gov. Murphy should sign ban on animal-tested cosmetics

Brian R. Hackett | July 22, 2021 | Opinion
More than 1,000 cosmetics brands, many of which market and sell their products in New Jersey, have already committed not to test their final formulations or ingredients using animals
Brian R. Hackett

Our use of animals takes many forms but perhaps none so frivolous as in the testing of cosmetics. The procedures involved have a grim history that does not make for pleasant reading. There’s inherent cruelty in forcing substances down animals’ throats or dripping chemicals into their eyes.

You won’t find too many people willing to defend these practices, and there’s a growing international movement to replace them with non-animal methods. In late June, the New Jersey state Legislature joined the parade, affirming its support with passage of a bill to prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the state. Now, the fate of this measure (S-1726) rests with Gov. Phil Murphy.

The burdens and demands falling upon New Jersey and all states are understandably great at this moment in our nation’s history. Even so, it should be a simple matter for Gov. Murphy to sign S-1726. Happily, it involves no vexing debates, no partisan dimensions and no complicating expenses or costs. The bill passed both chambers unanimously, not least because legislators heard from countless animal-loving citizens who would like to see it promptly signed.

More than 1,000 cosmetics brands, many of which market and sell their products in New Jersey, have already committed not to test their final formulations or ingredients using animals. And some of those key cosmetics manufacturers have headquarters or plants in our state.

Industry also on board

The roster of companies that have sent letters of support for this measure includes Lush, which has 10 stores in New Jersey, The Herbs and Bees (Wayne), and US Organic Group (Passaic).

On top of that, the Personal Care Products Council, the cosmetics industry’s trade association representing 90% of the U.S. cosmetics industry, is supporting similar federal legislation to ban animal testing for all cosmetics products produced or sold in the United States.

That these companies are willing to back the federal Humane Cosmetics Act tells us something about the pace of progress in the development of appropriate non-animal methods for assessing the safety of cosmetics and their ingredients. For their own good reasons, these companies have been pressing for regulatory acceptance of cutting-edge technology that does what animal models cannot do — namely, produce swift, accurate, inexpensive and human-relevant data for the 21st-century global cosmetics market.

International regulatory authorities have done their part, too, validating or accepting more than 50 alternative methods and testing strategies in recent years. Faster, cheaper, more accurate and animal-friendly? It’s a regulator’s dream.

Booker is leading drive for federal change

There is another good reason why Gov. Murphy should be eager to do his part to hasten the demise of cosmetics animal-testing. As it happens, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has been leading the drive for change at the federal level as one of the lead sponsors of the Humane Cosmetics Act in the Congress. And, as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th) can play a key leadership role in bringing about an end to cosmetics animal-testing.

The federal bill, soon to be reintroduced in both chambers in Washington, would prohibit the sale of any cosmetic products developed using animal testing and make it unlawful to conduct cosmetics animal-testing in the U.S., bringing our nation into line with more than 30 countries that have already implemented such a prohibition.

Signing S-1726 would send a message to the world that our state takes animal welfare seriously. Our citizens, like those in many other states, want to encourage the drive for innovative and superior testing methods that give us the safety assurances we seek while honoring the sensibilities of an animal-loving public.

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