The Cruelty of Animal Testing and the Need for Alternative Methods
In his book Inhumane Society: The American Way of Exploiting Animals, Dr. Michael W. Fox estimates that twenty-five to thirty-five million animals are used in the United States each year for laboratory testing and research (58). Research involving tests done on animals is unnecessary and cruel. More humane methods of research need to be employed.
Fox states that animal tests on cosmetics and household products are nothing more than a "public relations campaign to dispel public concern and give a false sense of security" (61). Laboratory animals are needlessly exploited and made to suffer cruelly in the name of research and testing. Fox also states that most companies that are continuing to test products on animals do so only because they do not want to have to begin putting warning labels on products that might alarm the consumers (61).
According to the book 67 Ways to Save the Animals by Anna Sequoia, there are many cosmetics companies, such as Revlon and Avon, that have stopped testing their products on animals. However, there are still companies, such as Gillette, that continue to test their products on animals (26).
Many animal tests were formulated back in the 1920s and 1930s. These tests are still being used today. According to the journal by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), published in March of 1995, many tests are still being used even though they are not terribly effective (9).
Anna Sequoia states that one test that is currently being used is called the Draize Acute Eye Irritancy Test. This test is done primarily on albino rabbits, because the albino rabbit is docile and cheap, and because its eyes do not produce tears that could wash foreign chemicals out of the eye (27).
Sequoia states that during the Draize test, several rabbits are immobilized and a foreign substance is placed in their eyes. This substance could be anything from mascara to oven cleaner. The rabbit's eyes are kept clamped open during this painful process and usually no anesthesia is administered to the animal. Rabbits are then examined periodically for a period of days or weeks. Reactions, which range from inflammation and clouding of the cornea to rupturing of the eyeball, are recorded. The rabbits that survive the Draize test are then used for skin irritancy tests (27).
Sequoia states several important reasons why the Draize test should not be used anymore. Rabbit eyes and human eyes are not the same. Therefore, substances that are damaging to a rabbit's eye may not be toxic to a human's. Similarly, substances that are very irritating to human eyes may have no effect on a rabbit's eyes. This test is also difficult to reproduce, and results vary from laboratory to laboratory (28).
Sequoia gives several alternatives to the Draize test. One is called the EYETEX System, which is used to determine the eye irritancy of specimens ranging from toothpaste...