Regardless of efforts to reduce or eliminate using animals for testing purposes for consumer products, the practice continues relatively unabated. While the federal government does not require animal testing to ensure that such products as hair spray, toothpaste, and laundry detergent are safe for consumers. The companies such as Proctor and Gamble are continue in their vain to attempts at convincing consumer that they have virtually eliminated such inhumane practices. The truth is that in today’s world, cats and dogs are not safe from animal testing. Neither consumer boycotts nor efforts from those opposed to such practices within the scientific community have had much of an impact on the elimination of animal testing. This paper explores the continued practice of using animals for the sake of testing consumer products. In a sense, what has been written may seem graphic in nature, but it is all for good reason. If we profess to love our pets and also cherish the marvelousness and beauty provided by nature. Then, it seems quite evident that the only effective means left is through legislation and legally banning the continued practice of animal testing.
There is a room somewhere in this world. It is very white and sterile and filled with small, white cages with openings at their front meant to allow the heads of rabbits to remain exposed. There are a good number of these cages lined up in neat rows befitting a clinical setting. Such a presentation infuses a sense of professionalism, that everything in this laboratory is sanctioned, authorized and approved. A technician enters the room, wearing a white smock befitting this featureless place, except for the rabbits. Staring front and center, the rabbit barely able to move because their bodies are locked within the small cages while their heads remain exposed bearing witness for what is to come. The technician seems to scribble a few sentences on a piece of paper affixed to a board and picks up a marked spray bottle filled with a watery solution.
One step at a time, the technician passes the rabbits spraying the solution into their eyes. When at the end of the row, the technician turns around and repeats the process, doing it over and over again until the rabbits begin to scream. For a few more moments the technician continues the process. The faces of the rabbits are sopping from the solution and there is a frenetic energy in the air resulting from them being in a state of extreme panic. However, the technician makes no note of this. Instead, they scribbling more words onto the paper stating something to the effect that the rabbits had survived. The pain and agony of the rabbits was just to test the safety of toothpaste (Boggan, 2011).
It seems rather strange that various agencies within the federal government publish information pertaining to the ethical treatment of laboratory animals. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 remains the overriding authority for the treatment of laboratory animals used in experiments to test the safety of consumer products ranging from shampoo to household cleaners (USDA, 2014). Agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) all have regulations that outline the care of laboratory animals, providing instructions on such things as feeding, transporting, and even how to care for their claws (USDA, 2014). Be that as it may, nowhere in this literature does it say that experimentation is authorized for the purposes of consumer goods. For example, the FDA regulates animal testing for cosmetics, but the agency makes it clear that such testing is not mandatory (FDA, 2014).
If so, then why would Proctor and Gamble, a major producer of a wide variety of consumer products, go to such great pains to convince the public that it has eliminated all animal testing, except for that which is mandated by the government (Proctor and Gamble, n.d.)? In truth, Proctor and Gamble continues to test its products on a virtual menagerie of animals, such as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and mice. The company continues to conduct animal testing for purposes of bringing new consumer products such as hair dyes, skin creams and laundry detergents to market. If the package of a product states that it is “new and improved” then it is almost guaranteed that animal testing has occurred (Sourcewatch, n.d.).
In the Proctor and Gamble universe, animals are fair game for experimentation because they are cheap, plentiful, and defenseless. Hamsters and rats are forced to inhale nanoparticles used in skin and hair products. A genetic alteration is commonplace when using mice and rats for purposes of improving beauty and cleaning products. Other animals are continually killed and maimed for the sake of testing for skin irritancy with products used for hair and fabric care (Uncaged, n.d.). Perhaps, worst of all is that experimentation on animals continues even after a product has been deemed safe, and determined after testing had occurred with human subjects (Uncaged, n.d.).
Animal testing should be made illegal. The federal government does not have an obligation that such testing is required in consumer product testing, then why continue to do it when alternatives have existed for years? Since 1981, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) has organized efforts to both reduce and eliminate the use of animal testing. CAAT was responsible for the development of a program to replace, reduce, and refine animal testing that was adopted by the NIH through the Revitalization Act of 1993, which specifically mandates that all scientific efforts that employ animal testing follow the example of CAAT (CAAT, 2014).
However, oversight that ensures adherence to the Revitalization Act is virtually impossible to conduct due to a lack of funding. Yet it will be on the part of regulators, and possibly due to the power and influence that corporations such as Proctor and Gamble wield (Proctor and Gamble, n.d.). Thus, the only way to effectively prevent the continued abuse and cruelty of animals for purposes of testing is to ban such practices through legislation.
Boggan, S. (2011, July 29). Why 8 million animals face death to test your toothpaste and washing liquid. Retrieved 16 November 2014, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2019976/Why8-million-animals-facedeath test toothpaste-washing-liquid.html
Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing. (2014). CAAT History. Retrieved 16 November 2014, from http://caat.jhsph.edu/about/history.html
FDA. (2014, July 29). Animal testing & cosmetics. Retrieved 17 November 2014, from http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ScienceResearch/ProductTesting/ucm072268.htm
Proctor and Gamble. (n.d.). We’re committed to eliminating research involving animals. Cincinnati, OH: Author.
Sourcewatch. (n.d.). Procter & Gamble. Retrieved 18 November 2014, from http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Procter_%26_Gamble#cite_note-15
Uncaged. (n.d.). P&G animal testing: Procter and Gamble’s animal tests. Retrieved 17 November 2014, from http://www.uncaged.co.uk/pgtesting.htm
USDA. Laboratory animals. Animal Welfare Information Center. Retrieved 18 November 2014, from http://awic.nal.usda.gov/government-and-professional-resources/legislation-regulations-and-guidelines-subject/laboratory