Today 115 million animals, at the very least, are used and abused by humans for testing worldwide every single year. This torture is committed all in the name of science or beauty. I am going to shed light on the ugly truth that the science or beauty industries don’t want you to know.
Types of Animal Tests Performed Today
The majority of tests that are performed on animals are to test for the safety of ingredients, rather than for finished products. The types of animals used in these tests a not exclusively rabbits. Other animals used include; rats, mice, guinea pigs, and in some cases even dogs.
Katy Taylor, in her book Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change, outlines the many horrific ways animals are experimented on in order to supposedly confirm that the ingredients or products are for safe humans to use:
|TEST||WHAT IT ENTAILS|
|Skin Absorption||The substance being tested is rubbed into the shaved skin of rats, |
they are then killed the following day.
|Acute Toxicity||Rats are used in this test by exposing them to an often lethal level |
dose of a substance, many are expected to die in the process.
|Skin Corrosion/Irritation||The substance is rubbed into the shaved skin of rabbits, they are then |
killed after two weeks.
|Eye Corrosion/Irritation||The substance is put in the eyes of rabbits, while they are alive. |
The rabbits are then monitored up to three weeks.
|Skin Sensitization||Guinea pigs or mice are used in this test. In the case of guinea pigs, |
they have a substance rubbed into their shaved skin, they are then
monitored for any allergic reaction. In the case of the mice, they
have the substance put on their ears, they are then killed after six
days to assess their immune response to the substance.
|Mutagenicity||A substance is injected or force-fed into rats or mice for two weeks. |
Then they are killed in order to analyze their cells and the effect this
test may have had on them.
|Repeated dose||Rats are the animals used in this test most often, however, rabbits, |
mice or dogs have been used as well. In this test the animals either:
have a substance rubbed into their shaved skin are force-fed the
substance are forced to inhale the substance Everyday for at least
twenty eight days or up to ninety days before they are killed and
assessed for changes.
|Carcinogenicity||Mice and rats are fed a substance for a total of two years to see |
whether they developed cancer or not.
|Reproductive toxicity||Female rats or rabbits who are made pregnant are then force-fed a |
substance, after a period of time they are then killed, along with their
unborn babies that they are still carrying.
Not all the above tests are used regularly within the cosmetics industry. The most common tests for cosmetics are toxicity, skin absorption, skin sensitivity, skin and eye irritation tests. However, all tests may be used on animals for new cosmetic ingredients in countries with no animal testing bans.
The Aftermath of Animal Testing
Animals who are used for testing have lives which are filled with suffering, and they are never offered any pain relief, as it is thought that pain relief may interfere with the test results. According to the Humane Society International, the terrible injuries these animals suffer include:
- Swollen eyes, which will often lead to blindness
- Painful bleeding skin
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Birth defects
Each animal is left in pain for the duration of the experiment, regardless of the gruesome extent of their injuries at the hands of the experimenters. The only way their pain can end is when they are put to death at the end of the tests, often by asphyxiation, neck breaking, or even decapitation.
How Many Animals Are Killed In Labs Each Year?
In the United States(USA):
To try and estimate the number of animals used in animal tests for research worldwide is very, very difficult. This is due to the fact that a lot of countries do not keep track of the amount. Take the USA, which only tracks the amount of mammals used in tests. Yet, they even decided to discount mice and rats as well from their statistics, even though they are mammals. This is clearly done to reduce the numbers significantly that they need to report. Their official figure, for 2016, was over 820,000. Yet, if you attempted to add in the amount of rats, mice and other non-mammals to that figure, estimates put the true amount of animals used in the year at between 12 million and 27 million.
In the United Kingdom(UK):
Though the UK was one of the first nations to pass a law limiting animal testing in some circumstances, and they also adhere to the EU ban on animal testing within the cosmetics industry. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of animals who are used and abused each year in labs within the UK, and again it is difficult to keep track on the true number of animals killed in these labs.
In the UK vertebrate animals, including mammals, birds, and fish, which are used in research are counted and reported each year. However, animals which were not used in the tests but which were just killed anyway in the research facility, known as Additional Animals, their numbers are only required to be reported every five years. The reasons for why these animals are destroyed instead of being experimented on are that:
- The animals were the incorrect sex for the research being undertaken.
- They were used to create or maintain genetically altered lines, however, they were not born with the required genetic alteration needed in the research.
- The researchers already had enough of a certain type of animal subject for their research.
Alternatives to Animal Testing
Around the globe there is a growing call for the welfare of animals to be considered in all industries. The vegan movement has seen a huge growth in people demanding the ethical treatment of all species, with the area of animal testing for cosmetics, drugs and science being on such area we want to see a change in around the globe.
With technology improving year on year, there are a large number of alternative tests which can replace animal testing worldwide. They are also often much more reliable as well, due to the tests being based off of human genetics, rather than animals. As Katy Taylor outlines in her book, these tests include:
- Cell-based tests
- Chemical-based analytical tests
- Computer-based modeling
- Ethical human studies
Katy Taylor goes into great detail outlining these tests, why they are more beneficial to research compared to animal based tests, and also the challenges campaigners face in getting these methods implemented. Check out her take on the issue here.
Legislation Against Animal Testing Today
There has been some great progress which has been made throughout the decades to begin the elimination of animal testing from the global cosmetics industry. Take the European Union which has implemented a total ban on animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients in 2013.
Summary Of The EU Ban On Animal Testing For Cosmetic Products And Their Ingredients:
Many countries are now realizing that animal testing is not only unethical, and immoral, it is also outdated. That is why we have seen a huge push in the fight to outright ban animal testing. Unfortunately though animal safety testing within the medical industry is still currently the most difficult area to win the fight to end animal testing in.
Other Bans On Animal Testing In Cosmetics Worldwide:
Other countries have set out to ban animal testing for cosmetic purposes also, these are positive steps in the right direction. Here are a few key dates so far:
- Taiwan’s animal testing for cosmetics ban comes into effect in October 2019.
- July 2018, Brazil has passed a ban on animal testing in cosmetics.
- Guatemala, in February 2017, became the first country in the Americas to ban animal testing for cosmetics.
- November 2016 saw India enforce a ban on imported cosmetics which have been tested on animals.
- New Zealand enforced a ban on animal testing for cosmetic purposes in March 2015.
- In May 2014 India banned animal testing for cosmetics.
- In 2007, Israel banned animal testing in cosmetics.
- In 1998, the UK enforced a ban on the use of animals in tests for cosmetics and their ingredients.
But remember still today, around 80% of countries have no laws prohibiting the use of animals in the testing of cosmetic products.
Organizations Fighting Animal Testing
The 1980s saw the peak of animal testing worldwide, and since then animal testing has been on a steady decline. This has been due mainly to an increase in regulations against its use, and also the introduction of many alternatives that do not use animals. Except with 115 million animals still being used and abused then killed in labs, more needs to be done.
There are many organizations today fighting to eradicate animal testing worldwide. Cruelty-free certifications now from the Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty-Free, and Peta: Beauty Without Bunnies have now allowed brands to advertise their cruelty-free commitment to the public. If you would like to learn more about each of these certifications, I have created a Cruelty-Free Logo Guide to help you out.
What you can do to help?
The easiest first step in which you can help eliminate animal testing is by promising to stop supporting brands who refuse to put the lives of animals ahead of their greed for profits.
This site has many cruelty-free guides to help you find cruelty-free brands, and help you stick to a cruelty-free lifestyle: