Going Cruelty-Free: Why Animal Testing Belongs In The Past
For several years, companies across the globe have resorted to testing products on animals, a practice that’s cruel and unethical. However, increased public awareness and technological innovations are now providing viable, cruelty-free alternatives to animal testing. Let’s take a look at the history of animal testing and why it firmly belongs in the past.
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What Is Animal Testing?
Animal testing refers to procedures carried out on animals to evaluate the safety of products intended for human consumption. Most of these procedures cause the animal harm in varying degrees and often result in death.
Arguments in favour of animal testing call it a necessary evil for advances in chemical, medical, and cosmetic sciences. But in reality, the animals are exposed to many harmful and toxic chemicals and maimed and tagged for record-keeping. They are often deprived of food and water, given electric shocks for behavioural experiments, and suffer severe physical and psychological distress.
Facts & Figures: Animal Testing In The UK.
- According to the BBC, in 2017, in the UK alone, over 3.79 million animals were tested for various products. These include fish, mice, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits, birds, sheep, and pigs.
- Half of them (1.89 million ) were used in experimental procedures for the development of treatments, safety testing of medicines, and environmental research.
- The other half was used in the breeding of GA or genetically altered animals whose genes are mutated or modified like chickens, and mice.
- The UK and EU have a ban on animal testing on cosmetic products and their ingredients, or to even sell animal-tested cosmetic products. Animal testing is only allowed if researchers can submit proof that no other method is viable for testing.
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Why Does Animal Testing Need To Stop?
There are several reasons why this practice should no longer be used to test a product’s safety:
- Animal Testing involves inflicting cruel and irreversible damage to the animals involved. It often ends up being used by organizations purely because of inertia, being considered a ‘default method’, instead of pro-activeness in looking for alternatives.
- It’s also increasingly unnecessary as often a lot of the procedures conducted are for basic research, willingly for exploration by individual scientists.
- Animal testing can also be highly unreliable, and compared to alternatives may often lead to misleading results since all species react differently to chemicals and diseases.
- Millions in taxpayer money are often pumped into running and maintaining breeding facilities to produce animals for testing leading to a lot of wasteful expenditure. Most of the animals found unfit are killed. This expenditure can rather be used to invest in developing safe human-based testing methods.
- Innovations in biotechnology and computer modeling have offered viable alternatives to animal testing, making it increasingly obsolete.
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What Alternatives Are Available to Animal Testing?
Modern scientific advances have led to many viable alternatives to animal testing:
- Computer Modeling: It involves creating a software model of the human body, or any of its organs on a chemical level. This model is used to test the effects of different substances on the body or on any of its organs like the skin or heart. Research on this technique has been going on since the 60s and with modern computing power, these models are highly effective alternatives.
- In Vitro: In Vitro testing uses human cells in test tubes instead of animals. The advantage is clear as actual human cells can lead to more effective research without harming animals.
- Human Tissue And Cell Cultures: Cell cultures are bred in the laboratories, they’re essentially samples of human tissue grown from scratch and used in various experiments. They produce more reliable results compared to animal testing and current technology in this type of testing is making huge advances.
What Can You Do As A Consumer To Go Cruelty Free?
If a company says it is ‘Cruelty-Free’, it means that the brand does not use or harm animals in any manner during its production process. Even though animal testing for cosmetics has been banned in the UK, it is still allowed in non-cosmetic industries.
As a consumer, you have the power to support brands that make cruelty-free products. This can be done by researching a company’s website for its testing policies and choosing to use cruelty free products. While some brands may pro-actively adopt alternatives to animal testing, others may wait for their bottom line to be affected before deciding to do so.
Increasing public awareness and growing sensitization about the lasting harm of animal testing is making many brands switch to alternate product testing methods. However, there is a long way to go before all kinds of animal testing is fully stopped. With more and more people choosing to go for cruelty-free brands, there is hope that this archaic practice will finally be put to rest.