The federal government is still testing cosmetics on animals, despite wanting to ban the practice AP Photo/Andre Penner
Researcher Natassia Vieira holds a lab rat that is used for stem cells research at the Sao Paulo University Human Genome Research Center in Sao Paulo, Monday, March 3, 2008. Brazilian church officials urged the Supreme Court on Friday to reject embryonic stem cell research in the world's largest Roman Catholic country, a week before the justices consider a ban on such research. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Earlier this month, Congress reintroduced the Humane Cosmetics Act, which aims to ban animal testing of cosmetic products as well as the sale of any cosmetics that were either tested on animals or use ingredients that were tested on animals.

While the Humane Cosmetics Act would make it illegal for both private and governmental bodies to conduct such experiments, it seems cosmetic companies in the United States have already stopped testing their products on animals anyway.

The federal government, however, has not.

White Coat Waste Project (WCWP) is an organization made up of animal rights activists and fiscal conservatives who are working to put an end to non-transparent and taxpayer-funded animal testing. To the group’s knowledge, no private cosmetic companies are still performing animal tests on their products, although some are involved in such experiments overseas in countries that require it by law.

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In their recent research, WCWP uncovered that the national government is currently using taxpayer money to conduct animal tests on cosmetics — making it the only entity in the country that still does so. In fact, after reviewing a list of recent, upcoming and ongoing experiments administered by just one federal program, WCWP discovered that the government has several animal tests for cosmetic ingredients in the works.

The National Toxicology Program, which is housed in the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and is supported by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has more than 100 ongoing and/or planned animal tests on not just chemicals and pesticides, but also on foods, herbal supplements and cosmetics ingredients.

Among the cosmetic animal tests, the National Toxicology Program will force-feed or has already force-fed mice and rats with color additives, fragrance ingredients hair-dye ingredients and antibacterial ingredients to test for toxicity. Additionally, the program will also smear or has already smeared such ingredients onto the animals’ skin to observe what doses irritate or burn them.

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Not only are they arguably inhumane, but some of these individual experiments can take three to five years to complete, use more than 800 animals and cost taxpayers as much as $4 million. However, it’s possible that those numbers could be even higher, as it’s difficult to determine exactly how many animals are used and how much money is spent because the federal government currently does not disclose that information in its entirety.

Therefore, before passing a bill that would place unnecessary regulations on cosmetic companies that have already chosen to end the practice of animal testing, WCWP suggests that the government take a look at its own practices first.

The federal government now kills more animals to test cosmetics and spends more money doing it than all of the top U.S. cosmetics companies combined,” Antony Bellotti, president and founder of WCWP, said. “To end cruel and unnecessary cosmetics testing on animals in the U.S., Congress can make immediate strides by cutting off funding for this wasteful testing in government labs.

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