Confession: I’ve never given animal testing much thought, especially concerning my household products, such as cleaners, toiletries and cosmetics. I’ve seen the leaping bunny icon on my Burt’s Bees lotion that assures me it wasn’t tested on animals and assumed that all of my makeup, styling products and personal care items were following suit.
Why? Because it seems so morally and ethically wrong that in this age we’d still be testing hairspray and lipstick on animals. Surely, no self-respecting company would still perform these horrendous acts just to make a buck, right?
Sadly, I was very wrong.
Why Are Animals Used in Testing?
Animal testing has been legally required in the United States since the 1930s after “several tragic incidents involving untested products” occurred. Since then, animals have been used in safety testing for everything from cosmetics to medicine.
Although the benefits of animal testing in modern medicine are arguably necessary for the overall well-being of society (leading to breakthroughs such as the polio vaccine and insulin), the use of animals to test cosmetics seems like an ethical gray area.
After all, we’re essentially torturing animals for the sake of our own vanity.
The Types of Animals That Researchers Use
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires research facilities to submit annual reports regarding the number, type and treatment of animals in its custody. Animals included on the list are:
- Guinea pigs
- Non-human primates
- All other farm animals
- All other covered species
The reports include 4 categories for the animals:
- At the facility, but not used in research
- Used in painless research
- Used in painful research with pain medications
- Used in painful research without pain medications
A research facility is no place for an animal. It isn’t a home, it isn’t nature. The least that can be done is to make the animals as comfortable as possible. But, as you can see in the 4th category, that isn’t the case for many test animals.
In 2015, more than 69,000 animals were reportedly subjected to painful research without pain medication in the United States.
Though the Animal Welfare Act requires that certain research animals be treated humanely, it doesn’t take into consideration all species, including mice and rats commonly found in research facilities.
And if pain medication might alter the results of a test, it doesn’t have to be administered.
Companies That Test on Animals
Sometimes I forget that animal testing for drugs, household products and cosmetics isn’t a dated concept.
The practice is alive and well, and I’m ashamed to say I have more than a few of these companies’ products in my home now, including those from:
- Old Spice
Visit PETA for the full list.
Companies That Don’t Test on Animals
Ready to take a stand and stock your cabinets with cruelty-free products?
The age of technology is making that easier than ever. Now you can download the free Cruelty-Cutter app on your iPhone or Android. It lets you scan a product for an instant update about its animal-testing status.
Or you can choose from a list of cruelty-free companies, such as:
- Bath & Body Works
- Urban Decay
- Trader Joe’s
- Paul Mitchell
There are also a couple of brands that don’t test on animals but are owned by companies that do test on animals, such as Burt’s Bees and NYX.
Animals are used in product testing because they don’t have rights. They don’t get to choose whether or not to participate, and most of them live unfulfilled and often painful, short lives.
There are alternatives to animal testing, though:
- In vitro (test tube) test methods and models based on human cell and tissue cultures
- Computerized patient-drug databases and virtual drug trials
- Computer models and simulations
- Stem cell and genetic testing methods
- Non-invasive imaging techniques, such as MRIs and CT scans
- Microdosing (in which humans are given very low quantities of a drug to test the effects on the body on the cellular level without affecting the whole body system)
Although the alternatives may not be as effective, they are more humane.
How You Can Help
Those of us who want to put a stop to animal testing can make a difference.
- Wherever possible, stop buying from companies that test on animals. Instead, opt for cruelty-free brands.
- Locate your elected officials here and let them know you want them to take action against animal research and testing.
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