Over 100 million animals are burned, crippled, poisoned, and abused in labs every year. That’s about 50 animals killed by the time you finish reading this sentence. And most of us will continue on with our day not realizing that we, as consumers, have the power and ability to help end these atrocities by simply choosing cruelty-free options.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Animal Testing
ANIMAL TESTING IS OUTDATED
It is true that in the past, without the use of animals to test ingredients, we wouldn’t have known the safety or human reaction to them but with modern technology, there are a number of cheaper, faster, and more reliable testing methods that don’t include the use of any animals.
More than 40 non-animal tests have already been validated for use, including cell and tissue cultures such as EpiDerm to test skin irritation; EpiSkin which is a three-dimensional human skin model comprised of reconstructed epidermis; synthetic membranes to test chemical mixtures on skin; and sophisticated computer models that can predict the absorption and distribution of chemicals within the body.
According to the former scientific executive of Huntingdon Life Sciences, animal tests are only 5%-25% accurate, whereas some non-animal alternatives are 80%-85% accurate.
In addition, more than 500 Canadian companies have agreed to not use animals to test new ingredients and instead, choosing from a list of 5,000 ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe” by the Canadian government.
ANIMAL TESTING IS NOT REQUIRED BY LAW
Although the law requires that animals be used for medical testing in Canada, animals are not required for cosmetic testing. Companies must demonstrate that their products are safe to use however testing on animals isn’t required by law as proof for consumer safety.
In Canada: The Food and Drugs Act of Canada, the Cosmetic Regulations, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations; all do not specify requirements for animal testing for cosmetic purposes.
In the United States: What about the products we get south of the border? Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission require animal testing for cosmetics.
ANIMAL TESTING IS CRUEL
Most of us would like to believe that animals used in labs are given pain relief or anesthesia while they have caustic chemicals applied to their sensitive skin and eyes, and then they’re released in the wild or given to sanctuaries after the experiments; but unfortunately none of this is true.
One of the most common procedures to test product safety on animals is the Draize eye test where chemicals are dripped into one eye of a rabbit, while the other eye is left as a control. The rabbit is restrained, preventing it from responding naturally to the irritation. Redness, bleeding, ulcers, and blindness often occur.
Other cosmetic tests commonly performed on mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs include:
- Skin irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed on their sensitive shaved skin without any pain relief
- Repeated force-feeding studies that last weeks or months, to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards
- Swallow large amounts of a test chemical to determine what dose causes death
At least 72 animals are used to test each product and animals are commonly killed after the tests, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.
THE GOOD NEWS
In March 2013, the European Union took the landmark step of banning all cosmetics tested on animals anywhere in the world, that means the sale of cosmetic products or ingredients subject to new animal testing after March 11th, 2013 is illegal throughout the 27 member countries of the E.U.
Israel imposed similar bans in 2007 and 2013. Similar policy change is also under considering in India and South Korea.
It’s time for Canada to join the movement!