By Jade Densmore
Companies and factories all over the world use animals to test their products to ensure consumer safety. However, they can not ensure anything – individual chemicals react differently on different species, therefore the results ‘scientists’ get are inconclusive and irrelevant to humans.
The abuse of animal testing is not required by law in the United States. There is only one act in place to protect animals used in these tests, the Animal Welfare Act. There is way too much freedom and leniency within this act that allows companies to do almost whatever they wish with the animals in their labs. If they breed the offspring within the lab there is even more leniency, and if they use animals not specified in the act, the USDA has no jurisdiction over those facilities.
Since there are alternatives to using animals for testing various cosmetics, such as not using new chemicals and instead using ones that have already been deemed safe for use on humans, companies have no reason to abuse animals for the sake of profit. Animal testing for cosmetics is a worldwide issue that needs to be addressed; there is a misconception about what it is and whether or not the world needs it.
But what counts as cosmetics? What most people assume is a very loose term that can mean many things, is actually clearly defined. According to the FDA the definition of ‘cosmetics’ is any “article intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, prompting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or functions.”
Anything from all organic shampoo and translucent face powder to Nair or even shaving cream could have been tested on animals. Bleaches and dyes, peroxides, gargles and rinses, all count as cosmetics and all have the potential to have caused an innocent animal’s suffering. More than twenty-five million animals are used each year for education, research, and testing according to the Humane Society of the United States. The real question being, is this legal?
Using animals to test cosmetics is not legally required in the United States. The European Union, Israel, and India have banned the sale of any cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients that have been tested on animals. Overall, the AWA act isn’t fit for protecting the rights of animals.
There is only one department charged with enforcing the AWA and it is the USDA. The USDA has only 115 inspectors who have to oversee more than 7,750 licensed facilities. So, adequate inspections and regulations isn’t even remotely possible.
More limitations include that the USDA has no jurisdiction over facilities that perform animal testing on animals not covered under the AWA. With so much unwritten, the law does virtually nothing and as of right now, government statistics do not include the species of animals used the labs. Over 100 million animals are bred or genetically engineered per year, and that’s not talking about the twenty-five million used annually that aren’t bred or engineered.
All throughout the history of the United States, there has been animal cruelty and testing. Approximately 100,000-200,000 animals die for cosmetics each year. In 2005, nearly two million animals were used for research, which included 245,786 rabbits, 221,286 guinea pigs, 176,988 hamsters, 66,610 dogs, 58,598 pigs, and 22,921 cats.
Animal tests include skin and eye irritation tests, repeated oral force-feeding, and the condemned “lethal dose” tests. The “lethal dose” tests the amount of one chemical that causes death. Pain relief is not provided and at the end of the test the animals are killed by asphyxiation, neck-breaking, or decapitation.
Another thing to mention is that results from animal tests may not be relevant to humans, because different species react differently to chemicals thus, consumer safety can not be guaranteed. Today there are many alternatives for the inhumane, ruthless, and defiling tests that happen all for the vanity of human kind.
Alternatives are cheaper and scientifically more accurate than using animals. Companies can ensure the safety of their products by using the immense list of ingredients that have a history of safe use for humans. One alternative is to utilize artificial skin. This skin is made out of human cells left over from cosmetic surgery. They grow the skin in a gel made from collagen, a protein found in skin. This is often used to test sunscreens and cosmetics.
The punishment for violating the AWA law is very minimal and doesn’t deter companies from doing what they want with animals. The current punishment is a fine of $10,000. For a company that makes millions, it’s just another price of business.
This isn’t okay and it needs to stop. Unnecessary animal testing should become a thing of the past and big business corporations need to choose another route and limitations need to be placed in order to protect our furry friends. The voiceless need a voice and it’s up to be that for them.