IIVS is a non-profit laboratory dedicated to promoting the use and acceptance of in vitro (non-animal) methods for product safety testing. In Vitro is Latin and means “in glass” as opposed to in vivo, which means “in the living.” The two terms are used to describe the effects of cells in culture versus studying effects in a live animal.
Regarded as a technical authority in the field, IIVS performs in vitro (non-animal) product safety testing while also helping scientists and regulators in countries that still use animal testing, such as China, learn the methods, thereby reducing and/or eliminating the use of animals in product safety testing.
First and foremost, animal testing on cosmetics, and other personal care products, is still required by law. Safety assessment of cosmetics is relatively new in China. While change is slowly being made, China’s testing program is built around animal models. China lacks the laboratory infrastructure (equipment, staff, and methods). Chinese scientists do not have knowledge and expertise to conduct non-animal testing, and training opportunities are limited. In addition, there are financial and regulatory factors that support animal testing.
Animal testing is required by law in China for all imported cosmetic products. China also conducts animal testing on domestically manufactured products.
IIVS works collaboratively with China to promote the use of in vitro techniques in cosmetic safety testing, based on a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2014, between IIVS and Chinese regulatory agencies. Some of the ways in which IIVS does this includes: providing training to Chinese scientists and regulators (non-scientists), translating and disseminating important documents to make them accessible to Chinese scientists, and providing supplies and equipment.
Support by MAC and other companies is critical to funding the training and outreach activities that IIVS conducts in China. Through such support, IIVS is able to actively effect change and reduce and eliminate the use of animals in product safety testing.