On average, one animal dies everyminute as a result of animal testing (The Humane Society of United States). Thetruth behind the pretty cosmetics products is rather ugly: countless labanimals sacrifice through the testing of those products before they are put onstore shelves. While testing for new products before launching it on the marketis a part of safety protocol, the problem with cosmetic product testing is thatanimal models do not accurately represent humans’ reactions to cosmeticproducts and yet are still widely used.
Consumers who buy these products thatare not properly tested can develop skin irritation and illness. Cosmeticcompanies should adopt alternative testing methods because animal testing is noteffective and costly while it imposes cruel treatment on animals. Despite its wide usage, animal testingis rather ineffective at serving its purpose.
There are many limitations tousing animal models. Fundamental differences of the physiological structurebetween humans and animals decrease the accuracy of the representation ofanimal models. Testing categories often have specific objectives, such asfinding the side effects of an ingredient on the face (Anderegg et.
al. 9). Thefocus is only on one part of the body, despite side effects may affect otherbody systems or have chronic impact. Physiological differences such as bodyproportion and organ functions between humans and animals can result indifferent reaction to the ingredient, thus skewing the accuracy.
Studies havefound that only 50% of a laboratory mouse’s DNA matches with that of human(Cruelty Free International). The low percentage match is indicative of howanimal models are unfit for human prediction. The misrepresentation of animal modelscan impose danger onto humans. Substances that passed the safety check onanimals might be harmful to humans due to the misrepresentation. Talcum powder,more commonly known as baby powder, is a common household item. However,several lawsuits in 2016 sued Johnson & Johnson for their baby powder whichcaused ovarian cancer in women (Fox, A).
Many testing done on lab animals totest the toxicity of talcum powder did not find tumor formations in the animals(American Cancer Society). The incompetence of animal testing in this case isdue to the difference between animal and human reproductive system. Whatappears to be safe to use on animals is not necessarily safe for humans.Therefore, animal testing loses its purpose of making sure products are safe tohuman before putting it on the market. Data from animal experimentationcannot be transferred to humans because the environment in each laboratoryvaries. The artificial environment creates stress on the animals, causing themto develop abnormal conditions that hinder with normal test results. Forexample, animals might develop chronic inflammatory conditions due to stress,but are recorded as a reaction to a product (Akhtar 409). Stressed out animalsdecreases the validity of the test results.
Other laboratory factors includetesting routines, noises, and artificial lighting. A study done by Crabbe et.al. attempted to standardize all of those factors across several laboratories.However, those laboratories yielded different testing results (2). Even if laboratoryconditions are strictly regulated across the board, there will still be factorsthat interfere with the consistency of test results. The uncertainty caused bythose laboratory factors is hard to eliminate, because it is hard to tellwhether a reaction is caused by the product or environment. Therefore those labtest results are useless for human application.
Furthermore, testing on animals isineffective because different species react to chemicals differently. Forexample, “Penicillin kills guinea pigs but is inactive in rabbits.Aspirin kills cats and causes birth defects in rats, mice, guinea pigs, dogs,and monkeys. And morphine, a depressant in humans, stimulates goats, cats, andhorses” (PETA).
Chemicals injected in one type of species can induce acompletely opposite reaction in another species. The variation allows forgreater risk when the result is adopted for human use and can create harmfulside effects. Failure to produce a uniform conclusion across animal species isby no means a representative model of human reaction to the product.
This againcontributes to the invalidity of animal testing because the false prediction ofproduct reaction can be harmful to human. Besides the ineffectiveness of usinganimal models, laboratory testing inevitably imposes cruelty on the animals. Anestimated number of 500,000 lab animals die each year for cosmetics testing(The Humane Society of the United States). The high number of dead lab animalsstill doesn’t contribute to creating safer cosmetics. A large number of peopleare affected as a result. Approximately two million Americans suffer every yearfrom illnesses as side effects of unsafe products (Fox, K). The number ofanimals that sacrifice is unnecessarily high, especially for the purpose ofcreating products that has harmful effects on human.
A range of testing is doneon lab animals, which includes skin sensitization, mutagenicity,toxicokinetics, acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and dermal penetration(American Anti-Vivisection Society). These cruel testing methods are used onanimals to beautify humans. Tests such as skin sensitization can create ulcers,irritations, and inflammation of the animal’s skin. Other tests such as eyeirritation and toxicity can cause blinding, internal bleeding, seizure, andeven death (Humane Society of the United States).
Pain relief is not providedfor lab animals that suffer from life-threatening symptoms. The cruelty farexceeds the purpose of the experiment while providing invalid results. Moreover,current law does not adequately protect against animal cruelty in laboratorytesting.
The only federal law is the Animal Welfare Act which offers minimalprotection to certain animals such as dogs, cats, and monkeys. The law controlshow those animals are maintained in the testing facility but does not regulatetreatment of animals during experimentation (U.S. Department ofAgriculture). Animals not covered underthe act include rats and mice, which makes up 96% of animals used for testing(The Hastings Center).
In other words, the act covering a small number ofanimals is useless in reality. The law is ineffective at preventing the crueltreatment of animal during experiments. It leaves millions of lab animalsvulnerable to harsh testing conditions that lead to their pointless sacrifices. Animal testing is not cost effective.The high cost is a result of the demand for human labor and maintenance.Laboratory animals require daily care such as feeding, cleaning, andmonitoring, which can be time consuming.
U.S. spends approximately $12 billionon animal testing every year (PETA).
But all of the money goes to waste giventhe ineffectiveness of animal testing and inaccurate representation of animalmodels. Some animal testing can take up to years which adds another timeconsumption factor. In the end, money and time are wasted because those testresults cannot be used due to confounding variables that fails to accuratelypredict reactions in human. The best way to solve the problemwould be to use human cell-based alternatives, which includes cell culture anddonated human tissues. Testing with cell culture can be used in a variety ofexperiments. It would involve obtaining human sample cells and tissues andgrowing them in lab test tubes. Cell culture testing can perform many of thesame tasks in animal testing, such as skin corrosivity, eye irritation, andtoxicity (Indans 177). This proves that it is capable of testing for the safetyof products.
It is also a more effective method than animal testing. Recentstudy evaluating the effectiveness of using cell culture to test skin careproduct concluded effective and efficient across numerous applications(Ramata-Stunda 173) Testing with donated human tissues utilizes tissues fromsurgeries or voluntary donation. Those tissues can also be cultured in labs tobe used for testing. Besides providing a more accurate prediction than animalmodels, testing using donated human tissues provides diversity which allows forthe study with different skin types that can further enhance the effectivenessof such testing. Human cell-based alternative is moreeffective and cost efficient than animal testing in many ways.
It minimizes thebiological differences that set limitations on animal models, thus providing amore accurate prediction of human reaction. Results from human cell-basedtesting is more applicable as cell cultures are less affected by confoundinglab environment variables. The results can also be concluded as safer becausethe elimination of structural discrepancy that causes animals to react todifferent chemicals than human. Growing cell culture is more cost effectivethan animal testing. For example, to perform a skin corrosion test on rabbitswould cost $1800. If the test is done using human cell cultures, the cost wouldbe $500, which is only a fraction of the cost for animal testing (HumaneSociety International). With the same amount of money that goes into animaltesting each year, tremendous advancement can be made by using human cellalternatives. Human cell testing does not require the same amount of man laborfor maintenance in comparison to animals and can be replicated relativelyquicker.
Tests that take weeks or months using animals can only take hours ordays when using cell culture (Doke & Dhawale). This allows for moreefficient testing and more resources to allocate to solving other problems.Moreover, using human cell-based alternatives does not require the killing andtorturing of animals. They would not have to make pointless sacrifices forinapplicable results. Animal testing is ineffective in its failure to createanimal models that are representative to humans. Limitations exist in thephysiological difference between animal and humans. Results from animal testinghave too many confounding variables such as environmental factors and speciesvariations to establish validity. So it is not safe to base predictions off ofanimal results given that differences between animal and human can lead tocontrasting reactions.
Testing on animals also involves cruel treatment ofthose animals. Millions of them die each year, yet their deaths does notcontribute to effectively provide safe cosmetic products. Animal testing is awaste of money because it is expensive yet inapplicable for human use. Therefore,cosmetics companies should replace animal testing with human cell-basedalternatives. Not only does the alternative uses human cells for more accuraterepresentation, it is more cost effective and efficient than animal testing andcan save millions of animals from dying.