Over the years, many members have donated stock to PETA, sometimes because of specific cruelty-to-animals issues. PETA has also purchased shares in companies in order to address the abuse of animals. As partial owners of a publicly traded company, shareholders are entitled to bring proposals, or resolutions, to a vote as part of a company’s annual meeting process.
Shareholder Resolutions and Animal Testing
Animal testing conducted by companies may be required by government regulations or it may be performed voluntarily. For example, government regulations require a certain amount of animal testing for pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, but these companies are often afforded flexibility in choosing the tests that they use to establish the safety and effectiveness of new products.
PETA’s first shareholder resolutions in 1987 targeted cosmetics and household-product manufacturers that conducted animal tests. In 2006, PETA’s Give the Animals 5 resolutions called upon companies to replace five commonly used animal tests with validated, internationally approved non-animal methods. With the support of our members, PETA has since filed shareholder resolutions covering many animal testing issues with dozens of companies, including many chemical and pharmaceutical giants.
Companies often seek the government’s permission to exclude PETA’s resolutions from their annual meeting materials. The Securities and Exchange Commission—the agency responsible for administering federal securities laws in the U.S.—often rules against these companies in PETA’s favor, allowing our resolutions to be submitted and voted on. PETA’s resolutions frequently receive high enough percentages of the shareholder vote to enable us to re-file the following year.
More importantly, the resolutions can open the door to discussions with companies’ upper management and top scientists. In return for withdrawing resolutions, a number of companies such as Dow, DuPont, 3M, and other chemical, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies have agreed to enter into regular, constructive dialogues with PETA scientists.
Some actions taken by companies as a result of successful discussions with PETA include the following:
- Expanding their use of non-animal research and test methods
- Participating with PETA scientists in webinars to educate other company representatives on replacing animals in testing
- Working with PETA scientists to develop testing strategies that avoid the use of animals (One such strategy related to dermal toxicity was accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and extended to other companies.)
- Implementing a large computational toxicology program that spared tens of thousands of animals from government-mandated testing
- Working on non-animal replacements for skin sensitization and skin irritation testing for medical devices
- Using a non-animal method in place of acute toxicity (LD50) testing on animals and using fewer animals as a result of a tiered-testing strategy that PETA proposed
- Collaborating with several in vitro laboratories to design non-animal methods specific to their needs
- Investing in a non-animal method for testing nanomaterials, sparing large numbers of animals from being used in distressing tests
- Implementing PETA’s recommendation that pre-euthanasia anesthetics be administered to all rodents in order to avoid putting them through the distress associated with death by carbon dioxide
- Requiring all their contract laboratories to implement social and behavioral enrichment methods for all the animals used
- Inviting PETA scientists to speak to local toxicology chapters about the use of primates in experiments and the ethics of using animals in testing
Shareholder resolutions represent a powerful tactic for educating company management, boards, and investors about important animal-related issues, which can lead to long-term change.
PETA continues to file resolutions, attend meetings, and engage in ongoing negotiations on a regular basis in order to ensure that companies are working toward eliminating animal testing and, in the meantime, demonstrating greater transparency and accountability for the number and care of animals they currently use. Read more about PETA’s shareholder resolution campaign.