Animal Testing: Unnecessary Cruelty?

Mohandas K. Gandhi said it best, “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 of man.”

If so, then why are cosmetic industries still testing on animals? Innocent annimals are being tortured and killed each day for the sake of making people more beautiful. The main animal tests carried out for toiletries and cosmetics include tests for substance irritants, skin sensitivity, photosensitivity, and toxicity tests. The effects on animals can range from mildly unpleasant to extremely unpleasant, depending on the substance tested and the type of test done. Some tests can result in the death of the creature in concern.

Alternatives to animal testing are being discovered each and every day. Some of the alternatives available today are: TestSkin- which uses human skin grown in a sterile plastic bag and can be used for measuring irritancy, and EpiPack- which uses cloned human tissue to test potentially harmful substances.

Today, in-vitro tests (meaning “in glass”) as opposed to in-vivo (meaning “whole animal”) have become more widely used because of advances in tissue culture techniques and other analytical methods. The testing on animals for some products is necessary; however, there are many products and ingredients already available whose safety has been demonstrated by years of use on humans.

Not only are some companies testing on animals, but they are polluting rivers with hazardous wastes. Others promote their policies of animal-free testing, when they, in fact, are not. But while some people believe animal testing is against the law, it really isn’t. Research scientists who are using animals as test subjects are required by the Animal Welfare Act to consider alternatives to animal testing prior to beginning a research project. These investigators are required to search the literature for alternatives and to supply their findings to the Institutional Animal Care and Use committee. If no alternatives are available, investigators must supply to their IACUC a written description of their search history and databases used to look for alternatives.

Progress toward the widespread use of alternatives will continue to gain strength as awareness of, and support for, alternaties is made known. As consumers, we can make a difference in the lives of innocent animals by purchasing only products deemed “cruelty free” and by writing to the companies that still test animals to let them know why we will no longer purchase their products.

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