Dawn Koepke

Cosmetic testing ban bill earns spot as MFG Breaker bill

By Dawn Koepke

Capitol Update, May 4, 2018

SB 1249, sponsored by animal welfare organizations, has been listed as a CMTA MFG Breaker bill because of its negative impacts on innovation, investment and jobs in California. Based on early discussions with the author and sponsors, the intent was to align California with the European Union’s (EU) ban on animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients. Such an approach was one that CMTA and the broader business community could have gotten behind. Unfortunately, the sponsors have taken the bill in a direction that not only doesn’t align with the EU, it goes much further by creating an unworkable framework that could harm manufacturers and severely handicap American cosmetic exports.

Notably, the EU regulation does not ban products that have been tested as a result of requirements for market entry into a non-EU country. Further, under the EU regulation the use of animal testing data is accommodated if mandated by other, non-cosmetic-related, regulations. The provisions of SB 1249, unfortunately, go against the EU approach on both fronts and as currently drafted the bill could have far broader trade implications as they would appear to prohibit imports into California from other countries where animal testing may have occurred. If so, the amendments potentially could be in violation of the U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. Additionally, the provisions of the bill provide that if a product contains an ingredient that is tested on animals for any purpose after a specified time period, any cosmetic product containing that ingredient would be in violation of the law and subject to enforcement by local district and city attorneys whether or not that manufacturer was aware such testing had occurred on the ingredient or if the manufacturer was doing its part to be cruelty free.

Importantly, cosmetic manufacturers have led the way in reducing animal testing and have been a strong leader in the search for alternative methods that reduce or eliminate the need to use animals in product safety testing. Manufacturers now only consider animal testing when mandated by government bodies or, in rare cases, for safety evaluations of new ingredients when no viable alternative is available. Despite this progress, they can be challenged by state, federal and foreign mandates requiring specific animal tests. 

Ultimately, as currently drafted the bill would impose unnecessary economic burden on California companies seeking to market products globally, and would negatively impact California’s economy through a loss in innovation, investment and jobs. We are especially concerned that advocates of the amendments have stated that an easy solution would be for companies to move all existing product development and manufacturing to China. Clearly, such a “solution” would be unacceptable to the hundreds of companies and their thousands of employees who call California home. As such, CMTA is opposed to the measure and believes it would be a manufacturing breaker.

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