Q&A on Animal Testing

Animal testing is an outdated and flawed method to determine cosmetics and product safety. Many companies now use more effective, non-animal methods. By shopping cruelty-free, your consumer purchasing power can help end animal testing – an effortless way to help animals, the environment, and yourself!

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Q Why animal tests?
 

A In an attempt to predict safety and effectiveness, testing ingredients and finished products traditionally involved live animal use. Yet, science shows animals are too different than us to give accurate results. Non-animal tests provide more reliable, predictive results and safer products. Animal testing continues because of inertia in regulatory agencies and acceptance of status quo science.


Q What kinds of tests are performed on animals?
 

A

Animals may be forced to swallow or inhale substances, or endure injections, to determine the toxic dose. They suffer convulsions, seizures, and other agonizing effects from being slowly poisoned to death.

  • Chemicals may be inserted in the eyes of animals who are immobilized so they cannot rub it out. This can cause blindness and in all cases, irritation, infection and extreme suffering. Rabbits, commonly used in eye irritancy tests despite showing significant differences in eye structure, have been known to cry out in pain.
  • Chemicals are rubbed into animals’ shaved or abraded skin.
  • No pain relief is provided in toxicity tests, though they cause ulcers, bleeding, infection, and other painful effects.
  • Find out more about tests performed on animals here.

Q Is animal testing required?
 

A No. Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires animal testing. The FDA requires safety and efficacy tests before approving drugs, medical devices, and other products, but they need not be performed on animals.


Q Why buy cruelty-free products?
 

A For the animals: Testing inflicts tremendous pain, suffering, and death. It’s typically performed without anesthesia or pain relief. Dr. Gerhard Zbinden, world-renowned toxicologist, described one test as little more than “a ritual mass execution.” Testing one substance alone can involve hundreds of animals enduring prolonged suffering before death, and can cost millions. If the animals do not die, they are killed. The vast majority used are mice and rats who receive no protection under the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, though dogs, monkeys and other species are used as well.

For the environment: Cruelty-free products are more environmentally friendly, less likely to contain harmful chemicals, and more likely to use natural substances. In addition, animal testing results in millions of carcasses, considered pathogenic or hazardous waste, as well as other contaminated waste such as excrement and bedding, all of which must be disposed of in our environment–already taxed by modern industries and cultural practices.

For your health: Animals are not “little humans” and respond to substances in ways that may or may not predict human response. At best, they give us “guess work” information. Guess work is bad science. Rabbits are used in eye irritancy tests, though their eyes produce fewer tears, cannot easily flush out chemicals, and their corneas are thinner and more easily damaged. Animals can differ from us in their reaction to chemicals. Aspirin, for example, can kill a cat. We use animal tests that have never been validated as measuring what they claim to measure, or predicting what will happen in humans. Most would unlikely meet such scientific requirements. Even though dependence on animal tests hinders enforcement of consumer protection laws, federal agencies continue to accept data from them to meet their requirements–a bogus circle of misinformation.

For public health: Because of expense, inefficiency, and scientific limitations, the majority of chemicals in commercial use have not been tested. According to the Johns Hopkin’s Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, out of “some 100,000 chemicals … only about 5,000 have had significant testing so far.” Switching to non-animal methods would allow more chemicals to be more effectively and efficiently tested.


Q What are the alternatives?
 

A Companies and a growing number of federal agencies acknowledge the superiority of alternatives. For example, skin corrosivity and irritation is easily measured using human cell and tissue cultures, such as EPISKIN and EpiDerm. Learn more about animal testing alternatives here and visit Alternatives to Animals: The Latest to get up-to-date advances in alternatives.


Q How can I know if a product is cruelty-free?
 

A There are many cruelty-free definitions and labels that can be confusing and sometimes misleading. Some products claiming “not tested on animals” or “cruelty free” may contract out animal testing to labs or may not monitor testing practices of ingredient suppliers. For that reason, NEAVS and a coalition of other groups established the Leaping Bunny verification program — the world’s only internationally recognized cruelty-free certification. The Leaping Bunny logo guarantees animal testing is not part of any phase of product development. Leaping Bunny aims to drive animal testing out of industry practice completely.


Q Is finding certified products easy?
 

A Yes! Not only can you find Leaping Bunny-certified products at many stores and websites, there are specialized sites selling certified products. If your favorite companies are not certified, call and write to urge them to go cruelty-free. Contact us for your free Cruelty–Free Shopping guide at info @ neavs.org or download it now.


Q What can I do to help end animal testing for cosmetics and household products?
 

AThere are a variety of ways to personally contribute to an end to animal testing. Through your own purchasing power and starting a conversation with companies and friends, you have the ability to make a distinct impact in promoting cruelty-free products.

  • Buy Leaping Bunny-certified products to ensure the ingredients and final products were not tested on animals.
  • Encourage Companies to Go Cruelty-Free! Are some of your favorite companies not Leaping Bunny-certified? Write to urge them to go cruelty-free. Leaping Bunny is the only standard guaranteeing a product is 100% free of new animal testing. You can check if your favorite companies are certified here
  • Educate Others! A surprising number of people have no idea that testing on animals for cosmetics and household products still occurs. The first step to bringing about change is by letting people know the problem still exists, and that there are better alternatives. Remind them that despite great progress in ending animal testing, there is still much more to be done. Send your name and address to info @ neavs.org and we will send you the literature you need to start educating others. Set up a table with brochures, petitions, and factsheets in your school or work cafeteria, at community events, or other locations; hand out flyers to passersby on the street; or get creative! Some volunteers keep a stash of literature in their car so as to not miss any opportunity to spread the word. Thanks in advance for helping animals.

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