Animal Experimentation Annually, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests in order to determine the safety of cosmetics. Substances like eye shadow and soap are tested on rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, dogs, and many other animals, despite the fact that the test results do not help prevent or treat human illness or injury. Cosmetics are not required to be experimented on animals, and since non-animal alternatives exist, it’s difficult to understand why some companies still choose to conduct these brutal and unnecessary tests. Cosmetic companies murder millions of animals every year just to put a few more dollars into their pockets. The companies who perform these tests claim that they establish the safety of both the products and their components. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates cosmetic products, does not require animal testing in any way, shape, or form. Some of the tests used on animals are eye, toxicity, and skin irritant tests. In eye irritant tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered material is placed directly into the eyes of rabbits.
The animals are often immobilized in cages from which only their heads may show. They do not receive anesthesia during the tests. After placing the irritants into the rabbits’ eyes, scientists record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over a period of seventy-two hours. The tests sometimes can last anywhere from seven, up to eighteen days. Side effects from these experiments include swollen eyelids, ulceration, bleeding, swollen irises, massive deterioration, and blindness.
During the tests, rabbits’ eyelids are usually held open with clips. Many animals break their necks while restrained, attempting to escape. Toxicity tests, otherwise known as lethal dose or poisoning tests, record the amount of a material that will kill a percentage, sometimes even up to one-hundred percent, of a group of lab animals. In these tests, a liquid is forced into the animals stomach linings, and through holes slit in their throats. Scientists observe the animals’ reactions which may be convulsions, severe asthma attacks, malnutrition, rashes, boils, and bleeding from facial features. This test was developed in 1927 and the testing continues until at least fifty percent of the animals die. Like eye irritant tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable and have too many variables to have an accurate result. Alternatives to cosmetic testing are far less expensive and more accurate.
Animals obviously have different biological systems than humans, and therefore the tests cannot be as accurate as the current tests of modern day science. Some animal-free alternatives are cell and tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies may also calculate a formula using ingredients already proven safe by the FDA. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of many methods to ensure the safety of a product. Lobbying by animal welfare groups has resulted in federal, state, and local legislation severely restricting animal experimentation. Under the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, all animals used in biomedical research must be bought from vendors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA inspects laboratories where animals are used and enforces federal laws regarding treatment and care of the animals. Scientists have also taken action to prevent the abuse of the animals, in part because abused animals may not result in reliable data. The American Physiological Society, the National Institutes of Health, and many other organizations have joined together in order to lay down guidelines and rules for the use and treatment of experimental animals. Currently, there are also many universities with animal welfare committees. In a national survey conducted by the American Medical Association, seventy-five percent of Americans are against using animals in cosmetic testing.
Hundreds of companies have responded by switching to cruelty-free test methods. To help put an end to animal testing, people can stop buying products that were tested on animals, call or write to these companies, or write to your congressional representative about the alternatives that currently exist.