You've seen the cruelty-free certification stamps on shampoo bottles and the like. Most often, there's a cute, happy, healthy bunny depicted to verify the ethical production. It makes us feel good to put products free of animal testing into our carts. But if the sticker isn't there, we probably don't think about it. Perhaps this is because we don't really know what animal testing means--or just how cruel it really is.
What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?
Aptly named, cruelty-free products are made without using animals as test subjects. By products, we mean just about anything: makeup, personal care, chemicals, creams, you name it. Critters like rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and many more are subjected to product-related experiments. These tests supposedly verify the safety of the products and their ingredients. Animal testing results in the deaths of up to up to 200,000 animals a year -- and that's only in the cosmetics department. If you include all product testing, millions of critters are killed every year. Hundreds of millions, in fact. And if they aren't killed, they often end up with painful, debilitating symptoms.
Is it a necessary evil?
The idea behind animal testing is safety. These experiments are meant to ensure that products will be safe for human use. This is why rabbits and other mammals are often used in cosmetic testing; they have similar genetics to humans. With that logic, if a rabbit reacts badly to a chemical, a human will too, right?
There's a minuscule chance that this assumption is correct. In a 2004 study, the FDA found that 92 percent of drug trials successful in animal tests failed in human trials.
Yes. 92 percent. You read that right.
This means that less than 1 in 10 tests still proved harmful to humans, regardless of how well it may have worked on the animal.
Moreover, while rabbits and mice may have certain similarities to humans, it doesn't take a hefty degree to observe that we are very different from them. (Although, we can't deny the degree would help.) Simply having different anatomies is sure to mean different results.
In reference to our original question: is it a necessary evil? With a look at the numbers alone, we certainly don't think so.
Does buying Cruelty-Free products help?
Short answer: it does help. Saying yes to cruelty-free is one of the easiest ways to say no to animal testing.
The next time you head out to pick up some shampoo, skin care product, or other item, look for ta cruelty free stamp. We guarantee you'll feel good about it. The bunnies will, too.