The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has reportedly announced that it will implement a ban on animal testing for cosmetics, making it the first South Asian country to do so. The action follows an intense public campaign led by advocacy group Humane Society International (HSI) that garnered support from Indian Members of Parliament and State Assemblies.

In what was evidently a rare unanimous decision, BIS approved the removal of any mention of animal tests from the country’s cosmetics standard so that any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must now seek approval from India’s Central Drug Standards Control Organisation, reported a news source. BIS also made alternative non-animal tests mandatory in an apparent effort to prevent companies from finding loopholes to continue testing on animals.

“India’s decision shows the way for all countries that are still undecided about whether to ban cosmetics animal testing. Those countries should take action now, follow India’s lead and end cruelty for beauty,” said HSI Director of Research and Toxicology Troy Seidle.

Member of Parliament Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda said, “This is a great day for India and for the thousands of animals who will no longer suffer, yet more work must be done. Our government must go a step further by banning cosmetics products that are tested on animals abroad and then imported and sold here in India.”

Although the ban is considered a major victory, an HSI news statement noted that the next step for the Indian government is to enact a follow-up ban on selling cosmetics tested on animals in other parts of the world to prevent companies from outsourcing testing to other countries and importing the animal-tested products back into India. Currently, only Israel and the 27 European Union (EU) countries have both testing and sales bans in place. See, July 4, 2013; HIS News Release, July 9, 2013.

Meanwhile, during a recent visit to China, EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg reportedly urged Chinese authorities to follow the European example, rid the cosmetics arena of animal testing and turn to alternative methods instead. “I have encouraged the Chinese authorities to avoid unnecessary testing for cosmetics,” said Borg. “I see first signs of acceptance of alternative methods in China which I welcome very much. Acceptance of validated alternative methods … is clearly key to limit animal testing for cosmetics internationally.” See Cosmetics Design Europe, June 26, 2013.