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MPs back drive against animal testing

More than 100 MPs have backed a campaign to end the sale of cosmetics developed with the help of animal experiments.

Animal testing of cosmetics is outlawed in the UK and EU, but continues outside Europe.

Many UK consumers unwittingly buy beauty items and toiletries that contain ingredients tested on animals.

An EU-wide ban on the sale of such products is due to come into force in 2013, but there is mounting concern that the deadline might be moved back as much as 10 years.

The issue is said to be over a lack of adequate alternative methods of testing cosmetics chemicals.

Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) have urged the European Commission not to bow to industry pressure.

They argue that if the ban is delayed, it will lead to hundreds of thousands more animals being killed or maimed in beauty product tests.

More than 10,000 supporters have signed the BUAV's No Cruel Cosmetics petition, and the campaign is backed by celebrities including supermodel Jodie Kidd, actress Jenny Seagrove and designer Meg Mathews.

More than 100 MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion (EDM), tabled by Caroline Lucas MP, calling on the UK Government to press for a 2013 ban to be upheld.

BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew said: "We are delighted that so many MPs have signed the EDM to end cruel tests on animals for beauty products sold in the EU. Testing on animals is cruel and unnecessary."

Consumers can be sure of buying cruelty-free cosmetic products by looking for the BUAV's "leaping bunny" logo, said Ms Thew. They can also sign the petition at http://www.nocruelcosmetics.org.

Common animal tests for cosmetics products include placing caustic chemicals in the eyes of restrained rabbits.

Animal tests are used to determine levels of skin irritancy, eye tissue damage and toxicity caused by cosmetics ingredients.

In the Draize test, caustic substances are placed in the eyes of restrained rabbits to see how damaging they are to sensitive tissue.

Lethal Dosage (LD) tests are used to find out out much of a substance it takes to kill a predetermined fraction of animals.