Do We Need Animal Testing? March 23, 2015

Back in the days, when science hadn’t come so far along, the cosmetics industry had no choice. Studies like LD test, toxicology, skin irritancy, eye tissue damage had to be performed to be able to at least to a certain extent predict the effect of the new product on the human populace.

These testing methods are meant to test for the safety in usage of the product which also required by the law. Huge multi product manufacturers fearing the law suits and consumer reactions took to these animal testing procedures like fire to oil, though their useful in case of a suit is yet to be established. But FDA or any other equivalent organization across the world doesn’t insist on animal testing but only specifies the use of appropriate testing to assure safe usage. The alternative to animal testing is also now available in many.

These tests are however still conducted.The results of these tests were, are and always will be horrifying. Did you know that in the Draize test (one that is conducted to check the level of eye tissue damage), the caustic substance are placed in the eye of a conscious rabbit and this was so painful that they do not just scream in pain but quite a few ended up breaking their necks and backs in a desperate attempt to escape? Or maybe you have heard of this test…the LD 50 I.e. Lethal Dosage (LD) tests are used to determine the amount of a substance that will kill a predetermined ratio of animals. In this the subjects are forced to ingest poisonous substance till half of them die! And those that manage to survive show common reactions like convulsions, paralysis, vomiting and bleeding from eyes, nose, mouth or rectum! Horrible isn’t it? Want to know something even more disturbing? These tests aren’t even accurate! Every species reacts to a toxin differently. You cannot predict correlation in the reaction from a mouse to a rat let alone a rabbit to humans! These are the animal testing facts, unadulterated.

Animal Testing and Related Facts – In Detail:

1. Eye irritancy

This test was designed in 1944 by Draize to estimate eye irritation caused by various chemicals.

In this test, a rabbit is invariable the test subject. The Chemical is placed in one eye and the other eye is serves as the control (normal). The rabbits are restrained, preventing them from responding naturally to the irritation, and their eyes are evaluated after one hour and then at 24-hour intervals for up to 14 days. Some continue to be evaluated up to three weeks later. The level of irritation to the eyes is scored numerically by observation of the three major tissues of the eye (cornea, conjunctiva, and iris).

The failure of this test however lies in the fact that the very basic structure of the rabbit’s eye is vastly different than that of a human eye. It also produces lesser amounts of tears due to which the chemical remains in their eyes for longer causing greater damage. The result of this test is for this reason unreliable and leaves the test subjects in acute agony for no explainable cause.

2. Skin irritancy

This is also known as Draize skin test. This test is conducted to measure the substance potential to cause irreversible damage to the skin determined by the itching, swelling and inflammation. The test subject has a portion of its skin shaved clean and is placed in restraints. The chemical is then applied on and is studied against a shaved control patch.

The failing of this too again lies in the basic difference in anatomy between a rabbit and a human being. The very structure of the skin is different and hence, the reaction of the species to the chemical will be vastly different. And again the test subjects experience excruciating pain for now valid reason or explanation.

3. Acute toxicity

These tests are done to measure the danger of exposure to the chemical by mouth, skin or inhalation. The first of its kind of the lethal dose test where the dosage of the chemical would be increased until half the test population died. This was later replaced by newer but equally lethal options like the fixed dose, up and down and the acute toxic class method. With these the end was not signaled but the death of the subject but the subject would definitely experience excruciating pain, loss of motor functions, convulsions, uncontrollable seizures. And if the subject manages to survive this, it is then killed to study the extent of damage to the nervous system.

The failing of this test set again lies in the difference in the biology of the human and rabbit species. Both species exhibit varying sensitivity to chemicals and but they also differences in metabolism and absorption capabilities. So once again this form of testing on animals at best gives unreliable results.

Alternatives To Animal Testing

Since then however science has taken quite a few remarkable leaps. So many new methods and techniques of testing have come up. Did you know that you no longer need to blind a rabbit to check the level of eye tissue damage or don’t have to kill have the population to determine the toxicity? Say you can do this test on a donated human cornea or you can cultivate a human tissue culture to determine skin irritancy. The best part of these tests is that the results are for humans and they are as accurate as humanly possible!

So here is the question! Do we need to continue these unnecessary and horrifying procedures? When so many companies like Avon, The Body Shop, Mary Kay and Urban Decay have shifted away from these practices. Then why can’t the rest?