Question: Which personal care,
non-pharmaceutical products are required by law to be tested on animals?
Yes, that's right. There is NO law that requires companies to test
their personal care and household products on animals before selling
them to consumers!
Sophisticated alternatives to the use of animals in consumer product
testing are readily available. Most of the large producers of personal
care and household products could adopt these methods which are more
cost effective, better predictors of human injury, produce far quicker
results, and do not involve animal cruelty. Why don't all companies
become cruelty-free? The two main reasons are: the fear for human safety
and the fear of product liability suits.
In 1959, "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique" was
published in London defining the concept of animal testing alternatives
as the "Three R's": Refinement, Reduction, and Replacement. The only
viable choice for a true animal rights' supporter is the *Replacement*
of animals used in tests; Refinement and Reduction are still viewed as
Revlon Cosmetics was one of the first large companies to fund
research for alternatives with a $750,000 contribution to the
Rockefeller University in 1979. Several organizations such as the John
Hopkins Center for the Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), the
International Foundation for Ethical Research, the Cosmetic, Toiletry,
and Fragrance Association, and the Soap and Detergent Association
followed suit and started their own programs to validate alternatives.
Keep in mind that, while companies search for alternatives, animal use
actually INCREASES because the old test (using animals) must be done
alongside the new test (without animals) to ensure consistent
While animal testing is still very much in existence at large
corporations such as Procter and Gamble and Lever Brothers, there are
now several hundred "cruelty-free" consumer product companies. For a
listing of these companies, please visit our Cruelty-Free
So, just what type of alternatives are in use today? The most common
type of alternative methods are: in-vitro tests, computer software,
databases of tests already done (to avoid duplication), and even human
"clinical trial" tests. Use of animal cells, organs, or tissue cultures
is also deemed an alternative although, obviously, animal lives are
sacrificed for the use of their parts. The specific tests are:
Produced by the National Testing Corp. in Palm
Springs, California, Eytex is an in-vitro (test-tube) procedure that
measures eye irritancy via a protein alteration system. A vegetable
protein from the jack bean mimics the reaction of the cornea to an alien
substance. This alternative is used by Avon instead of the cruel Draize
eye irritancy test.
An in-vitro method to assess skin irritancy that
uses pumpkin rind to mimic the reaction of a foreign substance on human
skin (both Eytex and Skintex can measure 5,000 different materials).
Produced by Clonetics in San Diego, California, the
EpiPack uses cloned human tissue to test potentially harmful
Neutral Red Bioassay
Developed at Rockefeller University
and promoted by Clonetics, the Neutral Red Bioassay is cultured human
cells that are used to compute the absorption of a water-soluble dye to
measure relative toxicity.
Produced by Organogenesis in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, Testskin uses human skin grown in a sterile plastic bag
and can be used for measuring irritancy, etc. (this method is used by
Avon, Amway, and Estee Lauder).
Produced by Health Design, Inc. in Rochester, New
York, TOPKAT is a computer software program that measures toxicity,
mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, and teratonogenicity (this method is used
by the U.S. Army, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and
Tests for carcinogenicity by mixing a test
culture with Salmonella typhimurium and adding activating enzymes. It
was able to detect 156 out of 174 (90%) animal carcinogens and 90 out of
100 (88%) non-carcinogenes.
Agarose Diffusion Method
Tests for toxicity of plastic and
synthetic devices used in medical devices such as heart valves,
artificial joints, and intravenous lines. Human cells and the test
material are placed in a flask and are separated by a thin-layer of
agarose (a derivative of seaweed agar). If the material tested is an
irritant, an area of killed cells appears around the substance.
Today, in-vitro (meaning, literally, "in glass") as opposed to
in-vivo (meaning "whole animal") has flourished because of advances in
tissue culture techniques and other analytical methods.
The main disadvantages to animal tests, according to John Frazier and
Alan Goldberg, of CAAT, are: "Animal discomfort and death,
species-extrapolation problems, and excessive time and expense." Animal
protection advocates stress that the main disadvantage is the inhumane
treatment of animals in tests due, in part, to the fact that anesthesia
for the alleviation of pain is often not administered. Scientists allege
that using anesthesia will interfere with test results.
Progress toward the widespread use of alternatives to animal testing
will continue to gain strength as awareness of, and support for,
alternatives is made known. As consumers, we can make a difference in
the lives of innocent animals by purchasing only products deemed
"cruelty-free" and writing to the companies that still do animal testing
and letting them know why you will not purchase their products.
Mohandas K. Gandhi said it best in his autobiography "The Story of My
Experiments": "To my mind the life of the lamb is no less precious than
that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of the
lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a
creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty