Ministerial Committee Approves Bill Banning Animal Testing for Cosmetics

Bill to be brought before Knesset plenum Wednesday; 2,000-3,000 animals currently undergo testing for cosmetics.

A bill banning animal testing for cosmetics and cleaning products was approved Sunday in the Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

Following the decision, the bill will be brought Wednesday to the Knesset plenum for a preliminary reading.

The current law allows the Council on Animal Experimentation to issue permits to cosmetics and detergent industries for conducting experiments which serve no medical purpose.

The bill indicates that 2,000-3,000 animals are currently used in such experiments annually.

Animal rights activists demonstrated opposite the Knesset building Sunday morning calling for committee members to approve the bill, as well as another bill prohibiting the importation of cosmetic or detergent products developed through animal testing.

The second bill was rejected by a margin of one vote.

The activists distributed lists to passersby of companies that do not employ animal testing and urged them to boycott companies that do.

The bill, introduced by MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), is intended to bring Israel in line with states in the European Union, which three years ago passed a law banning all animal testing for cosmetic purposes by 2009.

The wording of the bill indicates that the experiments "cause enormous suffering to animals and are conducted without painkillers," despite the option of alternative methods for determining the effectiveness and poison levels of cosmetics that do not cause pain to animals.

A document released by the state comptroller in 2004 indicated a lack of supervision by the Council on Animal Experimentation.

In recent years, it said, the council has hardly advanced the use of alternative testing techniques.

The experiments of more than 20 industrial companies are currently conducted using permits issued by various internal committees.

In many instances, the members of such committees are the same people conducting the experiments, and are in effect authorizing their own experiments or those of colleagues.

The bill stipulates a reversal of the council's power of authorization on experiments to develop cosmetic and detergent products.