Is animal testing necessary for research? | The benefits of using cruelty-free products
Author : Amal Rahiman
Animals have feelings – a statement that seems to be difficult to grasp for many
among us. It is widely accepted that dogs and cats can form bonds and show
emotions, so why can this not include other animals as well, specifically laboratory
Laboratory animals are those that are legally allowed to be tested upon and tortured
in the name of science. Most commonly used in the cosmetic industry and the
medical field, these animals are bred, sold, and caged for their entire lives. They are
made to suffer for the sake of humans.
But does their suffering help humanity? No, not enough to validate their painful
What Happens In The Medical Field?
In simple words – a whole lot of torture.
Medicines have to be tested on animals by law, before starting human trials. This is
not simply a choice made by companies, this is a legal requirement.
This law exists to reduce the danger to human life. Even after animal trials, the
human trial volunteers are chosen with several checks in place. Their required
consent, the probable side effects, and the high possibility of death are all conveyed
to them in verbal and written format.
But there is no such law that protects the animals.
They are born to die. Diseases are injected into them for the trials to take place.
They are forced to feel pain so that the pain level can be studied. They are kept in
small, cold cages, under stressful situations, and are experimented on over and over
again till they die.
The most commonly used animals are dogs, monkeys, mice, pigs, rabbits, cats, and
rats. Most of these animals have a high enough intellect to understand pain,
suffering, and distress. They can form bonds with other animals as well. In other
words, along with their own suffering, they watch their friends and family suffer as
Is animal testing reliable?
The main reason for using animals for medicine is to test on a specimen that is the
closest to a human being. However, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has
revealed that more than 95% of medicines that were successful in animal trials fail in
This could also mean that the medicines that failed during animal trials could have
been successful in human trials, but no one would ever know.
Are there alternatives to animal testing?
With the many advances in technology, several alternatives can be used instead of
- In vitro testing – A method of testing the effects of drugs on actual human
tissue, cells, or organs. These tests are outside the human body and can be
retrieved through voluntary donation and informed consent. As they are tested
on human organs themselves, these results are considered much more
reliable than animal testing.
- Computer modelling: A process in which a computer model will be made to
show a mock-up of the effects of an ingredient in human beings.
- Organs-on-chips: The use of tiny 3D chips that are created from human cells.
These chips mimic the function of actual human organs. You can create a
series of chips to mimic a whole human body, and tests can be done to study
the effects on each of these “organs”.
- Artificial human skin: This can be used to show the effects of creams and
ointments on the skin, instead of using animal skin.
Although there are many alternatives to animal testing, the scientific community is
reluctant to stop animal testing for drugs. They say that they need an actual living
being to test, to get as close to a human being’s test results as possible. The final
trial results do not validate this statement, but they refuse to stop animal testing.
What happens to these animals after testing?
Since the most common side effect is death, the majority of these animals die after
living a horrible, painful life. For those that do manage to live, there is a limit set by
law on how many experiments can be conducted on one animal. After the limit is
crossed, these animals are allowed to be rehomed.
But the vast majority of these animals have been exposed to toxic chemicals and
substances, making them dangerous for humans. These animals will then be
What Happens In The Cosmetic Industry?
Any ingredient that touches our skin has to be deemed safe for human use. In order
to get the required approval, cosmetic companies use animals to test their products.
The trial products would be smeared on their skin, dripped into their eyes, or injected
into their bloodstream to find out if any ingredient causes any irritation. The signs
that are looked for are skin allergies, blood toxicity, permanent nasal and eye
damage, skin burns and rashes, and many more.
In order to test the safety of one single product, around 1400 animals would have to
Can this be avoided? YES!
There is a list of around 7000 ingredients that are certified safe to use on human
beings. Cosmetic companies can easily use them to make effective and safe
products. Introducing a new ingredient at this stage is simply to reduce costs. It is
unnecessary, wasteful, and downright cruel.
There have been advances in this industry though. About 40 countries have banned
the use of animal testing. Consumers now know the harsh reality behind animal
testing. The demand for cruelty-free products is on the rise, forcing these companies
to change their ways. As of now, products that use natural ingredients are growing in
popularity and do not require the use of animal testing.
Why choose cruelty-free products?
Unlike medicines, for cosmetics we have a choice – we can either support animal
cruelty, or we can help save these animals by consciously choosing cruelty-free
products. There are many other reasons to choose cruelty-free, such as those
- Cruelty-free usually means healthy products: These products would be free
from parabens, dyes, and sulphates – all of which are harmful for human use as
well. You would be less prone to allergies, breakouts, and rashes.
- Budget-friendly: Many of these products are natural, healthier, and still cost
much less than high-end products that are laden with harmful chemicals.
- Environment friendly: Cruelty-free products are almost always eco-friendly as
well. They are conscious of their packaging, their carbon footprint, and their
product wastage. They are safe for animals, humans, and our planet.
- You can be the change: Every time you choose cruelty-free products, you are
creating a better place for the animals. As more and more people demand
cruelty-free products, the other companies will eventually die down.
When it comes to cosmetics, we have the power to choose. We can choose to say
no to animal cruelty. We can choose to be the change that saves thousands of
animal lives. We can choose to be cruelty-free. While this may not be possible in
medicines, we might as well use our power in cosmetics.
With the major advances in technology, we may soon have the power of choice in
medicines as well, or so we can hope.
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