You may be thinking that the globs of gel you put in your hair doesn't come at a cost, but products that test on animals might be crueler than you realize. DoSomething.org asked Aryenish Birdie, Research Associate at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, to dispel common myths about animal testing for cosmetics, household cleaners, and other products.
- Animal testing exclusively involves mice and rats.
Companies that conduct animal testing use many different species. After mice and rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and dogs are the most commonly used animals.
- When you test shampoo on animals, you simply rub it on their fur.
Animal testing usually involves applying chemicals or products to animals’ shaved skin or eyes. In one of the most commonly used tests, researchers put chemicals into their eyes and record the state of the injured eye for 21 days.
- Animals can't feel pain.
A recent experiment found that when mice are exposed to painful stimuli, they display facial expressions very similar to those humans show when in pain. Research has also found that many animals even suffer from depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders in laboratories.
- All animals in laboratories have some legal protection.
The only federal law that applies to animals used for testing is the Animal Welfare Act, which only regulates cage size, cleanliness, and food and water, but does not limit the procedures that can be done. This law excludes rats, mice, birds, cold-blooded animals, and animals commonly killed for food—so rats and mice, the animals most commonly used in toxicity tests, are not even given minimal protections.
- Animals are well cared for and are given anesthesia or painkillers during tests.
Generally, animals are not given anesthesia even during extremely painful tests.
- Some animals get to live happy lives once they are not needed for any more testing.
Every year, millions of animals used for testing are killed during the experiment or soon after.
- Cosmetic testing on animals is required by law.
The United States does not require tests on cosmetics. In fact, hundreds of companies do not test their products on animals, just look for the rabbit logo on the label that tells you that your beauty product is animal-friendly.
- Testing cosmetics on animals tells us whether the products are safe.
It’s difficult to interpret what animal test results mean for humans, because each species reacts differently to various substances.
- There aren't any alternatives to animal tests.
There are many cheaper and faster alternative methods that produce more accurate information. Examples include artificial human skin and robotic technology that can screen thousands of chemicals at once using cells grown in the lab.
- Companies always use the most current testing methods.
Many companies continue to test chemicals and products using animal-based tests developed in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
- There is nothing I can do to stop animal suffering in laboratories.
There are many things you can do to help animals in laboratories.