Legal Animal Cruelty: Animal Testing and the Products We Buy

by on March 7th, 2015
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Animal testing began in the 1920’s to determine if vaccines and drugs were safe and effective for human use. By the end of WW II, researchers were using animals in earnest to test consumer products because it was believed research labs could predict the safety of these products by how animals reacted to different toxins and products. Hundreds of millions of animals have died over the years since then so companies can claim their products are safe for human use and safe for the environment. Unfortunately, both claims are misleading because animals aren’t human and testing on animals does not produce reliable or accurate scientific analysis that can completely guarantee a product’s safety or effectiveness on humans or in the environment. Legal animal cruelty takes place in labs everyday; not to assure consumers of a product’s safety but to give the company cover to protect them from lawsuits. The FDA does not require animal testing for consumer products and the question remains why companies continue to use animals for testing products when the results don’t guarantee product effectiveness and safety for us.

There are two controversial tests done on small animals in labs to learn how damaging a substance is on or in the body. The Draize test was developed in 1944 by Dr. John H. Draize, Ph.D to test how the eyes react to irritation from different types of chemicals. Albino rabbits are used because their large eyes make it easier for researchers to see how they react to chemicals. The rabbit’s head is locked in place in stocks so it can’t get away and the eyelids are clipped open so the animals can’t blink their eyes. Chemicals are then dropped into one eye and the other eye acts as a controlled comparison. As you might expect; the animals struggle trying to get away from the pain and many break their necks or backs in the process. Drugs that would help relieve pain during the tests are not given to the rabbits because researchers claim the drugs would compromise the test results. The rabbits that survive the Draize test are killed after the experiment is over which can sometimes last as long as three weeks.

What makes the Draize test an unreliable test is the rabbit eye structure, the cornea, is much different than ours and their eyes don’t produce as many tears as our eyes do and albino rabbits produce fewer tears than brown rabbits. This test is cruel, painful and unnecessary. Companies have been testing the same chemicals in the same way on the same kind of animals for years and the results from the test are not used to make better and safer products for us.

A highly controversial test called Lethal Dose 50 (LD-50) test, is used to determine the lethal dose of a chemical. Small animals, mainly rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits, are injected under the skin or into the lining of the stomach or in a vein with a chemical. The animal may be forced to eat it, forced to inhale a chemical or it’s placed directly on the skin. Sometimes a hole is cut into their throat to force a substance into the animal. The experiment is continues until at least half of the animals being used die and some experiments will go on until all of the animals are dead. The animals suffer in horrific pain, uncontrollable seizures, convulsions, loss of motor functions labored breathing, skin eruptions and other unpleasant symptoms before they finally die. Sometimes they experience all of the above. Once the experiment is completed, the animals are killed and dissected to see what kind of internal damage was done by the chemical. There is enough of a difference between human and animal sensitivity to chemicals and toxins that this test does not produce a reliable or accurate analysis of how we will react to a specific chemical. We metabolize and absorb toxins differently than animals do. These tests were banned by the European Union in 2009 in the cosmetic industry and it will be expanded in 2013 to include eight other unreliable and cruel tests on animals.

Companies continue to test on animals because they can claim it shows their products are safe. Fortunately, there are companies that are changing how they test their products by using alternative testing methods that are non lethal for the animals or completely animal free. But, this can be a double edge sword for animals because some companies are making a deceptive claim and even if they have stopped testing on animals; ingredients used in their products were tested at one time on animals. Companies will stamp their product as “cruelty-free” if the final version of their product wasn’t tested on animals. Some of the larger companies will hire another company to do the testing for them so they can claim they didn’t use animal testing while producing their product. Unfortunately, many of the largest consumer product companies are still testing on animals even as the public is indicating a preference for products that are made without testing on and killing animals.

As consumers, we have a choice in choosing which household products we use in our home and which cosmetic and personal care products we buy. Money is the one convincing weapon we have to force companies to change how they do business. Animal testing will not guarantee a product’s safety for us and common sense tells us that accidentally drinking bleach, drain cleaner, anti freeze or any other caustic product is dangerous not only for animals, but for us as well and there’s no need to continue testing on animals to prove that point. Killing animals for unreliable test results is unethical, cruel, deceptive to the public and it is legal animal cruelty by companies that are more worried about lawsuits than they are about our safety or the lives of innocent animals put to death every year. Alternative methods are more reliable and accurate, but that means a company would have to change their ways and for some; that’s not an option unless we force them to change.

Companies that are still using animal testing

Companies that DO NOT test on animals

More from Linda:

Legal Animal Cruelty: Using Animals in Research Labs
Legal Animal Cruelty: Free to Good Home
Legal Animal Cruelty: Pets and Class B Dealers

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