- Health Solutions
- Diet & Nutrition
- Skin Care
- Healthy Living
You are hereHome › The Cruelty-Free Commitment
The Cruelty-Free Commitment
The Cruelty-Free Commitment
The nonprofit organization Understanding Animal Research estimates that about 60 million animals are used in scientific studies worldwide each year. Proponents of this type of research argue that animals have played a significant role in advancing medicine; the National Institutes of Health reports that without animal research, we may not have discovered important vaccines or been able to perfect organ transplants and heart surgeries.
Few discount the importance of these and other medical advancements; however, opponents of animal research argue that there are many instances in which animal testing is unnecessary and cruel. In particular, they question the necessity of animal testing not only in body care products but for the entire beauty industry, as well as for household products.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not require the use of animal testing of cosmetic and body care ingredients or products in America, but some manufacturers still feel it’s necessary. In 2006, the European Union banned cosmetics that have been tested on animals, but no such ban exists in the U.S. However, many U.S. body care companies have taken the initiative to stop conducting animal testing and not use ingredients from suppliers who engage in animal testing. In addition, some medical researchers are also pledging to minimize animal testing.
What is cruelty-free?
Animal testing refers to an intervention or treatment that can cause the animal pain, fear, and/or suffering, and does not provide any benefit to the animal. Although there are no laws that monitor “cruelty free,” manufacturers that make this claim say they do not test their products on animals.
According to animal rights activist and attorney Doris Lin, “One of the gray areas is when the individual ingredients might have been tested on animals by a supplier to the manufacturer.”
Lin says it’s important to find out if the company, or its suppliers, conducts animal testing. Keep in mind that because there is no governmental certification program, it’s difficult to definitively confirm this, so you’ll have to trust the manufacturer’s word that they, and their suppliers, do not test on animals.
Some in the scientific community have taken the lead in the area of animal welfare as it relates to research. More than 40 years ago, researchers William Russell and Rex Burch from the United Kingdom developed the three Rs: when possible, Replace animals with alternatives; Reduce the number of animals used; and Refine experiments to include less pain and distress.
“The most humane science is the best science,” according to Alan M. Goldberg, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University. “Pain and distress must be eliminated in animal experiments or reduced to an absolute minimum, and as scientists, we must use the most humane approaches in our research.”
Why is the cruelty-free movement important?
According to the Humane Society of the U. S., if more manufacturers of cosmetic, body care, and household products would swear off animal testing, millions of animals would be spared pain and suffering.
Even if consumers can set aside the debate about compassion toward animals, they cannot avoid the obvious: If an ingredient’s safety is so questionable that it needs to be tested on animals, why use it?
Unfortunately, safe, nontoxic ingredients are not the norm. According to a coalition of nonprofit organizations called the Environmental Working Group, the average adult uses nine personal care products containing a total of 126 potentially dangerous chemicals every day.
Karen Lee Stevens, founder and president of the animal advocacy group All For Animals says if manufacturers are concerned about the safety of their ingredients, there are plenty of alternatives to animal testing. Some of the more common options she cites include cell cultures (also known as in-vitro tests), human volunteers and database searches of other studies to avoid duplication. According to the Humane Society, alternatives to animal testing can be even more accurate and easier to reproduce.
The cruelty-free commitment
Because of the sheer number of beauty and body care products that are produced and the limited number of manufacturers who have a cruelty-free commitment, it may be difficult for the industry to be completely cruelty-free. For a list of companies that are cruelty-free, visit CaringConsumer.org.
“Society is evolving to recognize that animals are sentient and deserve to be treated as more than just property,” explains Lin. “Everyone can do their part by speaking out for animals and making lifestyle choices that do not support animal cruelty.”
To find cruelty-free body care products, click here.
Karolyn is the publisher of Wellness Times. She is also the publisher of Natural Medicine Journal, a peer-reviewed e-journal for healthcare professionals and open access website. Karolyn has been publishing wellness information for nearly 20 years and is the author or coauthor of several books including her latest book with Dr. Lise Alschuler, Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan (Active Interest Media, 2011). She is also the co-host of the Five to Thrive Live! radio show featured on The Cancer Support Network. For more information, visit FivetoThrivePlan.com.
January 6th, 2012