Over the years, many members have given stock to PETA as a donation or because of specific cruelty-to-animals issues. On occasion, PETA has also purchased shares in companies where the inhumane treatment of animals has been brought to our attention. 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 expressly required by government regulations or may be a voluntary activity on the company’s part. 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 the following chemical and pharmaceutical giants:
A number of companies seek the government’s permission to exclude PETA’s resolutions from their annual meeting materials. In certain instances, the Securities and Exchange Commission—the agency responsible for administering federal securities laws in the U.S.—ruled against these companies in PETA’s favor, allowing our resolutions to be submitted and voted upon. PETA’s resolutions often receive high enough percentages of the shareholder vote to enable us to re-file the following year.
More importantly, the resolutions frequently 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 successes that have resulted from these discussions include companies:
- 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 saved 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 (LD-50) 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, thus saving large numbers of animals from being used
- Implementing PETA’s recommendation for pre-euthanasia anesthetics to be administered to all rodents in order to avoid the distress associated with using 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 and credible tactic to educate company management, boards, and investors about important issues, leading to change over the long term.
PETA continues to regularly file resolutions, attend meetings, and engage in ongoing negotiations 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 ongoing shareholder resolution campaign.