Brazil paves the way to end animal testing throughout LATAM

By Cassandra Stern & Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

© Bunyos / Getty Images
© Bunyos / Getty Images

Related tags Brazil Cosmetics Latin america Personal care products Animal testing Animal testing alternatives

To find out more about the state of animal testing in Brazil, Cosmetics Design USA spoke with Dr. Gavin Maxwell, safety science advocacy lead at Unilever’s Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre, who discusses how progress is being made towards non-animal testing methods could spell big changes for the LATAM beauty and personal care industry.

In 2021 Mexico banned animal testing for beauty and personal care products, following similar legislation that was introduced in both Guatemala and Colombia. And in March of this year the Brazilian senate also introduced a ban on vertebrae animals​ being tested on any kind of beauty and personal care products, although this legislation does not stretch to imported products.

The legislations throughout the LATAM region have led to pressure to find alternative testing methods, a challenge Unilever’s Brazilian operation is now rising to.

CosmeticsDesign-USA (CDU): How ‘ready’ is Brazil for alternative non-animal testing methods (NAMs) – is the infrastructure there / scientific understanding up to speed?

Gavin Maxwell (GM): Brazil has over a decade of experience in developing, evaluating and applying new approach methodologies (NAMs) for regulatory use supported by the Brazilian National Network for Alternative Methods (RENAMA), National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA), Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) and BraCVAM (Brazilian Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods). Over 40 validated NAMs (i.e. OECD test guideline methods) are currently recognized by CONCEA for regulatory use in Brazil. 

Brazil is well-placed to implement widespread use of NAMs through the RENAMA network of NAM competent labs [3 central government laboratories (INMETRO, INCQS & LNBio), and 51 associated laboratories (public or private institutions)] and good connections to global regulatory and training initiatives (e.g. OECD test guideline program, International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR), Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA) and the newly launched International Collaboration on Cosmetics Safety (ICCS)).

CDU: Does Unilever foresee any issues of regulatory acceptance in Brazil for NAMs?

GM: Although the CONCEA published Normative Resolution No. 58/2023 prohibits animal testing for existing cosmetic ingredients and mandates use of NAMs for new cosmetic ingredient, it is not yet legally binding, requiring a federal bill to establish a full ban on cosmetic ingredient animal testing. Unilever wants to see an end to regulatory requirements for animal testing for cosmetics in every part of the world and we announced our support for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics in 2018. We are committed to ensuring that our products and the ingredients they contain are safe and sustainable without animal testing – that’s why we’re working with 70 + partners to accelerate the use of animal-free safety science beyond our own business.

For example, we’re a member of Humane Society International’s (HSI) #BeCrueltyFree movement and Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA) collaboration, a global coalition working to advance the acceptance and regulatory use of animal-free safety science worldwide.  We also helped launch the International Collaboration on Cosmetics Safety (ICCS) this year – a group of more than 35 cosmetics and chemicals companies and animal protection NGOs focused on advancing the adoption of animal-free safety science for cosmetics products and ingredients globally.

More information here: Ending animal testing for cosmetics: ten years of progress | Unilever

CDU: Has there been pressure from Brazilian consumers for the animal testing ban? How engaged are they on this issue?

GM: Our experience is that a significant majority of Brazilian consumers strongly oppose animal testing of cosmetic ingredients and are very engaged on this issue.

CDU: Is this a sign of changing times in wider LATAM?

GM: Scientific collaboration to build NAM laboratory infrastructure and upskill LATAM scientists (covering Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay) has been ongoing since 2016 through the Regional Platform of Alternative Methods to the Use of Animals (PReMASUR), which ensures capabilities are in place to support increased regulatory use of NAMs throughout LATAM.

The willingness of LATAM safety scientists to engage on NAMs was observed in the overwhelmingly positive reaction to a recent series of “In Vitro Science Webinars”, organized by the Faculty of Pharmacy from the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), Brazil in collaboration with Unilever SEAC scientists, Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), Laboratory of Education and Research in In Vitro Toxicology (Tox In), InnVitro Suporte e Gestão em Toxicologia, Brazilian Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM), Animal-Free Safety Assessment (AFSA) Collaboration and Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC)/Latin America.

More information here: SEAC scientists collaborate to launch LATAM In Vitro Science Webinars | Unilever

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