Who’s Lives Matter?: The Controversy Behind Cosmetic Animal Testing

Anti-Animal Testing Campaign by PETA

Annually, millions of genetically modified animals are blinded, poisoned, and killed by tests in order to sample the toxicity of human cosmetics. Should living animals have to suffer through these tests in order to satisfy human needs? There is no current law that requires or bans the use of animals in testing consumer products, which leaves it up to companies to decide whether the use of animals for scientific testing should be prohibited. Even though there are many supplementary non-animal testing methods widely available for companies, scientists still continue to use living animals. It is through the methods, morals, and effects on the animals that makes cosmetic animal testing a wrong and truly controversial and disturbing subject.

There are a range of different types of methods used for testing human cosmetics on animals. Since different animals have varying reactions to chemicals, the tests are performed differently with the same substance but various animal body parts. For example, eye irritancy assesses if the chemicals in the substance cause eye irritation. Rabbits are used for testing eye irritancy and a substance is planted in one of their eyes, with the other as a control. The rabbits are restrained from responding naturally to the annoyance resulting from the substance and get evaluated after the first hour and then every twenty-four hours for sometimes up to fourteen days. In this test, the rabbits can suffer from bleeding, ulcers, redness, blindness, and sometimes death but this still does not stop researchers from using animals. The variety of other methods consist of tests sometimes more harmful than the eye irritancy test. Because the research involves multiple methods that are harmful to animals, these tests should be put to an end.

Cosmetic animal testing brings up many questions of morality because it involves harming living animals. In contemporary society, consumers are conditioned not to care about the process of how things are made. Most cosmetic consumers are unaware of the testing that takes place to develop different products that they are buying. The fact that researchers working for cosmetic companies, are irritating, poisoning, and killing living animals is an unjustifiable practice. While humans are often given the choice to participate in research studies, animals have no control and often times are mass produced through genetic engineering. Most people are raised to feel worry and guilt for something as simple as road kill, yet the cosmetic industry kills so many animals without feeling any emotions. Cosmetic companies choosing to use animals for testing their products should end the practices.

The animals who undergo the harmful methods when exposed to cosmetic testing are affected before and during the experiments. The animals being tested are either tested from birth or are raised in clear plastic boxes or wired cages waiting for their experiment. It is a harsh and unfriendly environment, where the animals are sometimes stored by thousands in crates. During the tests, the animals all experience different reactions and pain. For example, acute toxicity tests the danger of the chemical when exposed to either skin, mouth, or inhalation. The rats and mice used in this test not only experience convulsions, excruciating pain, seizures, and loss of motor function during the testing, but often live with internal damage afterwards. Toxicity tests are one of the many methods for testing cosmetics that leaves the test animals with unhealthy effects. There are only a small percentage of animals who live after these tests, and if survivors they are sent to various animal sanctuaries. The majority of animals are only used for one experiment and are often euthanized after their test has been completed. Although the animals are only effected during the experiment, it is not fair to produce large amounts of animals and kill them all off through toxicity tests.

I believe that the animal cosmetic industry is a wasteful testing method used only to benefit human needs. The methods used on the animals are harmful, unfair, and should be prohibited for the sake of human concerns. Morally, this type of testing on living animals is unjust and the industry should seek alternative methods to use that do not involve the harm of living creatures. The effects forced on these animals before and during the procedures are terrible as explained above. Cosmetic animal testing is a global issue that requires the awareness of consumers and calls for a change in the industry.

By Alex Roberti, Contributor

Images via PETA and Google Images

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