Cosmetics and Household-Product Animal Testing
In a huge victory for animals, as of March 2013, the European Union (EU) has banned the sale of any cosmetics or cosmetics ingredients that have been tested on animals. This marketing ban means that companies all around the world will have to abandon animal testing for cosmetics that they want to sell in the EU. The decision follows vigorous campaigning by PETA and its international affiliates that included public protests, phone calls, and more than 20,000 e-mails.
Additionally, with the help of PETA’s funding and scientific expertise, China is making strides in moving away from animal testing and is poised to approve its first non-animal test for cosmetics. Israel has banned cosmetics testing on animals, and thanks to our months of meetings and discussions with government and other India officials, the Drugs Controller General of India has suspended all tests on animals for cosmetics until non-animal methods are accepted, and the government is considering a permanent ban.
Unfortunately, things are different in the United States. As hard as it is to believe, animal experiments for cosmetics continue even though non-animal tests are widely available. Instead of measuring how long it takes a chemical to burn away the cornea of a rabbit’s eye, manufacturers can now drop that chemical onto cornea-like 3-D tissue structures produced from human cells. Likewise, human skin cultures can be grown and purchased for skin irritation testing. These and dozens more tests now in use today are faster and more accurate at predicting human reactions to a product than the old animal tests ever were. However, huge multiproduct manufacturers, such as Johnson & Johnson—driven by a fear of lawsuits (although animal tests have not proved effective in a company’s defense when a consumer sues) and, inexplicably, frozen by inertia—continue to poison, burn, and blind animals in tests.
This reluctance to change is especially unforgivable considering the current wide availability of superior non-animal tests. Instead of measuring how long it takes a chemical to burn away the cornea of a rabbit’s eye, manufacturers can now drop that chemical onto donated human corneas. Human skin cultures can be grown and ordered for irritancy testing. These and dozens more tests now in use today are cheaper, faster, and more accurate at predicting human reactions to a product than the old animal tests ever were.
Even more incomprehensible is the continued demand by some U.S. environmental organizations for more and more animal testing of cosmetics products even as the rest of the world moves away from these crude, cruel methods and toward modern, more effective non-animal methods. Recently, a scientist from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), while acknowledging that there “are non-animal tests that are really valuable, informative, cheaper, and quicker” than animal tests, publicly disagreed with the EU ban on cosmetics testing on animals, claiming that “we need to test these products on live things” instead of using the widely accepted, validated non-animal alternatives to test cosmetics.
It would appear that the current scientists at the NRDC have never even bothered to read the National Academy of Sciences report Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century and are ignoring the sea change that has occurred in the last quarter-century regarding our understanding of how biological processes work. These advances in our understanding have led to the development of test methods that can look directly at cellular mechanisms rather than at the crude “black box” results that come from using animals. If it were up to the NRDC, however, which does not believe that we can “live in a world without animal testing,” and regards animals suffering in laboratory experiments as mere “things,” millions of animals would continue to die in cosmetics testing even while other countries and continents are taking concrete steps to ban the use of animals in these tests.
The best way to stop companies from using animals is to refuse to purchase their products and to write and tell them why you won’t be applying their eye shadow, cleaning your clothes with their detergent, or washing your child’s hair with their shampoo.
The good news is that today a multitude of cruelty-free cosmetics and household products are not tested on animals. With companies such as Urban Decay able to meet all of your cosmetics needs and Method able to provide for all of your household needs (just to name a couple), you can find cruelty-free products just about anywhere. Check out PETA’s database of companies that don’t test on animals and request a free copy of PETA’s global Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide to find cruelty-free versions of all the products you could ever need.
Click here for more information about animal testing.