Animal Testing in China

China is an estimated $34.8 billion dollar beauty market.  China is the only major market where companies must test their mascaras and lotions on animals. Rabbits, for instance, have ingredients dripped into their eyes or are killed after skin irritation tests, according to animal-rights group Cruelty Free International.

The United States hasn’t banned animal testing, but largely discourages it.  Other major markets like India and the EEC have banned animal testing.  The global sentiment seems to be that consumers veto animal testing by not purchasing from companies that still perform tests on animals.  Technology has been created so that animal testing is unnecessary.

Not so in China where the culture doesn’t focus on the ideals of a company but rather the prestige of the brand. Niche companies like L’Oreal’s The Body Shop cannot sell in China at all at this point because their core corporate beliefs would be unacceptably compromised.  Meanwhile companies like Proctor and Gamble have huge stakes in China comprising upwards of 20% of the country’s market share in personal care brands.

Until regulations change in mainland China the government requires that all beauty companies submit samples and the products are tested on animals.  The argument has been made that in China testing without animals has not yet been mastered.  The primary concerns are price, brand and aesthetic of the product packaging.

With the rush of many brands to enter the rapidly growing beauty market in China, it will be interesting to see how the Chinese government responds to this dilemma.

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