.. uch as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and AAVS (American Anti-Vivisection Society), a number of large corporations have ceased all animal testing in recent years. These corporations include Avon, Amway, Benetton, Revlon and even General Motors, who used to subject animals to crash/impact tests. In addition, the general public has begun to lean toward and seek out those products which are not tested on animals, in the cosmetics industry, cruelty-free products are one of the fastest growing market segments (Sequoia, 27). Consumers have at long-last begun to realize that with the vast number of cosmetics and personal care products on the market today, it is impossible for a company to rationalize animal testing in the name of another shampoo or nail polish.
In particular, consumers have begun to cry out for more frequent employment of the available alternatives to animal testing; some of which include cell cultures; tissue cultures; corneas from eye banks; and sophisticated computer and mathematical models (PETA factsheet). The non-animal test results have in fact proved themselves more accurate and less expensive than those involving animal cruelty (PETA factsheet). Of note, the Avon cosmetic company has personally endorsed EYTEX SYSTEM, an alternative to the painful Draize test (Rollin, B.E.). All of this bespeaks some progress, but it is still too slow and infrequent given the obvious moral and scientific fault in the practice of animal testing. Financial benefits to the experimenters and their suppliers, and habit are significant factors in the continuation of animal research activity.
Legal prohibition of the Draize and LD50 tests would accelerate the alternative approaches, to the benefit of science, animals and consumers (Rollin, B.E., 149). Alternatives to animal tests are efficient and reliable, both for cosmetics and household product tests and for “medical research.” In most cases, non-animal methods take less time to complete, cost only a fraction of what the animal experiments they replace costs, and are not plagued with species differences that make extrapolation difficult or impossible. Eytex, developed by InVitro International, assesses irritancy with a protein alteration system. A vegetable protein from the jack bean mimics the cornea’s reaction when exposed to foreign matter. The greater the irritation, the more opaque the solution becomes. The Skintex formula, developed by the same corporation, is made from the yellowish meat of the pumpkin rind; it mimics the reaction of human skin to foreign substances.
Both these can be used to determine the toxicity of more than 5,000 different materials. Tissue and cell cultures can be grown in laboratory from single cells from human or animal tissues. NeoDerm, made by Marrow-Tech, begins with the injection of skin cells into a sterile plastic bag containing a biodegradable mesh. The cells attach to the mesh and grow around it, like a vine in a garden. After the segment of skin is sewn onto the patient, the mesh gradually dissolves.
Mathematical and computer models, based on physical and chemical structures and properties of a substance, can be used to make predictions about the toxicity of a substance. TOPKAT, a software package distributed by Health Designs Inc., predicts oral toxicity and skin and eye irritation. It is “intended to be used as a personal tool by toxicologists, pharmacologists, synthetic and medicinal chemists, regulators, and industrial hygienists,” according to HDI (PETA Factsheet). The Ames test involves mixing the text chemical with a bacterial culture of Salmonelle typhimurium and adding activating enzymes to the mixture. It was able to detect 156 of 174 (90%) animal carcinogens and 96 out of 108 (88%) non-carcinogens (PETA Factsheet).
Non-animal tests are generally faster and less expensive than the animal tests they replace and improve upon. Eytex testing kits can test three concentrations of a chemical for $99.50 (American); a Draize test of comparable range would cost more than $1000, American (PETA Factsheet). There are a lot of steps the consumer can do to help and prevent the destruction of our animals. Buy cosmetics, personal care, and household products that have not been tested on animals, this involves taking on the responsibility of becoming an educated and compassionate consumer; encourage your friends and co-workers to buy cruelty-free products. If you need backup to encourage the people you speak with, inform them of the sickening situations involving lab animals. Instead of buying all of your personal care products, why not make some yourself? It’s simple and inexpensive, kind to animals, and ecologically sound.
Boycott companies which test their products on animals, and feel free to write them letting the company know why you are boycotting them. Lists of companies who carry out these senseless tests, and their addresses are available from organizations such as AAVS and PETA. Contact your elected representatives and federal agencies and demand that the validation of non-animal methods become a high-priority. Proven, that mankind often disregards the rights of other living beings, times are changing for the better due to the increasing pressure of the consumer. Society has begun to take notice of this pressing global concern because intelligent life should not be subjected to this form of torture.
It has been estimated that animal experimentation world-wide has decreased by 30-50% in the last 15-20 years, due to the reduction and replacement techniques (AAVS Factsheet). From the theory of evolution and the immergence of man, humans have to understand that this planet is not only ours, but the animals as well. Albert Einstein once said, “Our task must be to free ourselves.. by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” In essence, the means of living a healthy and fulfilled life is to embrace and respect all life present on this planet. There are a number of things that mankind can do to prevent this cruelty from continuing, it is simply a matter of taking the initiative to inform and involved yourself and others.
Every individual effort is a step towards the annihilation of animal cruelty.