The innocence of animals is often used as a metaphor or simile in literature, music and even art. Imagine a rabbit, its big beautiful eyes and soft silky hair, jumping around in a forest. Imagine a beagle, its expressive chocolate brown eyes and wagging tail. Doesn't it bring a smile to the face?
Now picture this: these beautiful innocent animals locked up in cages - being experimented upon for days. Not very pleasant is it?
Today, thanks to the efforts of countless people, we're at a stage where many feel animal testing on ingredients (particularly in the cosmetics industry) isn't even required anymore because we've tested everything already. But how did that come to be and what else is being done? Read on to find out!
Ethical Guidelines: The 3 Rs
The Three Rs are guiding principles for the more ethical use of animals in testing, first described by W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch in 1959.
The 3Rs are as follows:
- Replacement - this means that non-animal testing methods should be chosen and preferred over animal methods wherever possible to achieve scientific aims. A popular non-animal method is computer modelling.
- Reduction - reduction refers to methods wherein researchers can obtain the same information by using fewer or no animals.
- Refinement - refinement refers to methods that reduce or minimize any pain, distress or suffering for the animals such as using non-invasive methods.
The 3 Rs aim to encourage alternatives to animal testing while at the same time, endeavouring to improve animal welfare in situations wherein the use of animals cannot be avoided.
Alternatives to Animal Testing
If you're campaigning for banning animal testing, there must be viable alternatives for sure. It's 2020 after all. Surely some technologies allow us to negate the use of poor innocent animals just to test ingredients and products!
These are a few alternatives to animal testing –
In Vitro Testing
The term 'in vitro' refers to test-tube experiments. There are many types of testing methods available. For example, Harvard's Wyss Institute has developed 'organs on chips'. These chips contain human cells and can mimic the structure and functioning of human organs!
Another example is that of researchers at the European Union Reference Laboratory. They developed five different tests that use human blood cells to detect contaminants in drugs that may cause a potentially dangerous fever response on entering the body.
In Silico or Computer Modelling
Today, computer models are available that can simulate human metabolism to evaluate the toxicity of drugs among other things. Researchers have also developed models that simulate human biology and the progression of developing diseases.
According to studies, these models can accurately predict how new drugs will react with the human body.
Today, there are certain tests that you can volunteer for without endangering your health. Skin-patch tests are often conducted on human volunteers to check for irritation, rashes, inflammation or swelling.
Human epidermal cells have also been cultured and grown to mimic human epidermis. These cell cultures are used in the EU to replace the Draize rabbit skin irritation test.
Unfortunately, at present, many are of the opinion that these non-animal tests cannot completely replace and remove animal testing. But why?
Consider this - In some areas of research such as cosmetics testing — so many existing products have already been proved safe through animal studies that there's a growing recognition that testing new products is something that's not required to advance the industry.
The sad reality is that the only reason we've been able to shift to non-animal testing methods is that animals have been tested on. As a result, you've got a lot of data available that's been analysed and used.
Even though we've seen numerous advancements and progressions when it comes to leaving our furry friends alone, we still have a long way to go. But hey, at least we've come this far!
Okay so now you know a lot about animal testing. Let's talk about how you can tell whether a product or brand is cruelty-free or not.
You may have seen bunny logos stamped on product packaging. But what do they all mean? Let's find out!
In essence, a bunny logo signifies that the company that manufactured the product does not perform any testing on animals. Three main bunny logos are recognised worldwide. Now keep in mind, just because a brand has some other bunny logo on their product does not mean that they're not cruelty-free. You'll just have to do more research to find out for sure.
The Leaping Bunny
First and foremost, this logo means that the company has been verified by the Leaping Bunny. The Leaping Bunny Logo was formed when 8 animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). The CCIC promotes a single comprehensive standard and an internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo. They have their standards and regulations that companies and brands must adhere to. Moreover, there are audits every three years.
It is important to note that a brand with the Leaping Bunny logo may not necessarily be vegan.
PETA's Cruelty-Free Vegan Bunny
PETA or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also has rigorous standards. Like the Leaping Bunny, this is also a paid license. Companies are required to fill questionnaires and sign a statement of assurance. Unlike the Leaping Bunny, in this case, there isn't any monitoring or auditing. You have to rely on the authenticity of the statements.
The PETA bunny signifies that the company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and do not contain any animal ingredients (vegan).
CCF's Not Tested on Animals Logo
Australia-based Choose Cruelty-Free or CCF also has a bunny logo that signifies that none of its products and ingredients has ever been tested on animals by it, by anyone on its behalf, by its suppliers or anyone on their behalf and must not contain any ingredients derived specifically from killing an animal or provided as a by-product from killed animals.
CCF does not accredit companies unless all parent organisations and other subsidiaries are also accredited. They also do not have any auditing or monitoring policies.