By Adam Jourdan and Clare Baldwin
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Nov 13 (Reuters) - China is consideringa rule change that would allow the sale of some cosmeticswithout requiring them to be tested on animals, opening up apotential route into the Chinese market for international firmsopposed to the practice.
Under the potential changes, "non-specialised cosmetics" manufactured in China -- such as shampoos, soaps, nail productsand some skin products -- could be sold from June 2014 withoutundergoing animal testing, according to the China Food and DrugAdministration (CFDA).
This may enable firms which do not allow the practice, suchas British cosmetics retailer The Body Shop, wholly-owned byL'Oreal S.A., to enter the country's 134 billion yuan($22 billion) cosmetics market.
"Under the proposal, non-specialised cosmetics produced inChina could avoid toxicological testing when going through riskand safety checks. This would include animal testing," the CFDAsaid in comments emailed to Reuters on Wednesday. They clarifieda statement published on its website last week when it soughtpublic opinion on the proposed changes.
Imported cosmetics of all types and "specialised cosmetics"made in China will not be not covered by the proposed change,the CDFA said. Specialised cosmetics include sun cream,deodorants, skin bleaching products, hair dyes and hair growthand hair removal products, according to Chinese regulations.
"The Body Shop welcomes the signals that the Chineseauthorities are adopting a new approach to cosmetic testing,"spokeswoman Louise Terry said in emailed comments from London.
"We have campaigned against animal testing for over 20 yearsand we look forward to selling our products in China one day."
Animal testing is legal in more than 80 percent of theworld, including the United States. But China is the onlycountry that has laws requiring cosmetic products be tested onanimals before they come to market, according to animalprotection campaigner Cruelty Free International.
Regulations require all cosmetics to go through a lengthyapproval process that includes animal testing, reducing thevariety of products available for sale.
Animal rights groups welcomed the proposed changes, but saidthat this would not mark the end of animal testing in China asingredients used for cosmetics may still have to go through anapproval process involving animal tests.
"The fact they are looking at these changes and have madethis proposal is really to be welcomed. It's a significantdevelopment," Emily McIvor, senior policy adviser to HumaneSociety International, said by telephone from Britain.
The group is meeting the CFDA this week to urge Beijing toalso include imported and specialised cosmetics.
Europe banned the sale of new cosmetics tested on animals inMarch and has called for countries such as the United States andChina to follow suit.
- animal testing