Knesset outlaws animal testing for cosmetic products

Law would free the 2,000-3,000 animals that are currently used to test the products.

seeing dogs 88 298 (photo credit: Yocheved Miriam Russo)
seeing dogs 88 298
(photo credit: Yocheved Miriam Russo)
Animal shelters across Israel prepared to take in new tenants Monday, after the Knesset passed a law outlawing all animal testing for cosmetic and cleaning products. The law, which passed a final reading Monday afternoon and goes into effect immediately, would free the 2,000-3,000 animals that are currently used to test the products. "This is an important law that reflects how our society is changing its regard for animal rights," said MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), who proposed the law. He added that the law still provides for animal testing for medicinal products and the health industry. Sa'ar told the Knesset that he proposed the bill at the prompting of his 16-year-old daughter, Daniella, who originally approached him about it. "On the basis of what Daniella saw and learned, she convinced me that this was a bill that needed to be passed. I am very proud of this new generation that wants a more humane society and will ensure a bright future for Israel," said Sa'ar. He added that the bill brought Israel's legislature in line with that of the United States and the European union, both of which passed similar bills three years ago. "We did not want Israel to become the backyard of cosmetic companies wanting to test their products," said Anat Refua, director of Let the Animals Live. Following the ban on animal testing in the US and Europe, many companies sought alternative locations for animal testing, with many eventually turning to the Philippines and Vietnam, said Refua. Though there are several alternatives to animal testing, most involving synthetic replicas, live animals remain the cheapest method for companies to test their products. Prior to Sa'ar's bill, Israeli law dictated that the Council on Animal Experimentation could grant permits for animal experimentation to cosmetics and cleaning supplies companies on an as-needed basis. However, animal rights activists allege that the council often granted favors to the companies in question, since many of its members worked at the 20 companies in Israel involved in animal testing. A 2004 state comptroller's report also suggested that there was "not enough" supervision of the council. While Sa'ar said that he was happy about the bill's passage, he swore to advance a second bill that would ban the importation of products tested on animals. Sa'ar has already tried to pass that bill, but it was defeated by one vote. Refua said she hoped Sa'ar would pursue the legislature, and in the meantime said Israelis should "vote with their dollar" and check to make sure the products they purchased were not tested on animals.