The Skinny on Animal Testing
There could be hidden bunnies in your home.
Even though modern alternatives that better represent a human response system are available, several cosmetic and cleaning product companies continue to test on animals. Why? I don’t know. Laziness? Greed? Sadistic corporate tendencies?
Aaaanyway. “Modern alternatives” is a pretty nebulous term, so let’s talk about it some more. One of the biggest offenders in the category of unnecessary animal testing in the Draize eye irritancy test. In the Draize test, the lip gloss, drain cleanser, whatever’s being tested is dripped into a rabbit’s eye. (Because, you know, that’s totally where you put lip gloss and drain cleanser…) Rabbits have no tear ducts and subsequently can’t flush the chemicals from their eyes. The rabbit is restrained in a head padlock and given no pain medication. Because the rabbits often struggle to free themselves and evade the torture, broken necks are not uncommon.
However, CeeTox laboratory has developed an in-vitro dermal irritation test that renders the bunny-based model completely unnecessary. In the test, what’s effectively a patch of all the human skin layers is subjected to the product in question, and then the precursor of a dye known as MTT is delivered. Living cells will have functioning mitochondria, which process the MTT precursor into the visual form of MTT. So, the stronger the MTT signal, the more cells that are functioning. An additional test screening for the presence of antibodies – specifically Interleukin 1 alpha – can also be run on the skin patch for verification of the MTT results. The fewer the amount of antibodies, the less the skin patch had an issue with the product.
If rabbits, who are protected by regulatory legislation (namely the Animal Welfare Act), can go through all that unnecessarily, just think what can happen to animals who aren’t protected.
As it turns out, some animals, like mice and rats, aren’t even covered under the Animal Welfare Act provision. So, experimentation on rodents isn’t monitored. That means the numbers of rodents killed – or even just subjected to the experiment conditions – don’t have to be counted; pain medication doesn’t have to provided; and modern alternatives don’t have to be looked for first. Even though rodents can problem-solve, relate, feel – and die – just like the other animals that are protected under the Animal Welfare Act.
Worried about the bunnies that might be hiding in your home in the form of products tested on animals?
Do something about it.
How? Look for the bunny! No, really, I’m not kidding. Nowadays, a lot of companies are posting some sort of bunny picture on their products to let customers know that no animal testing was involved. For example, Trader Joe’s has a full line of cruelty-free cosmetic products. They’ve got a “no animal testing” image on the back:
There are a couple other images that you might see:
And for all you smartphone people, PETA’s got a “Be Nice to Bunnies” (BNB) app y’all can download and reference the next time you’re at the store and unsure about how cruelty-free a product is:
How cruelty-free conscious are you?