This summer the government pledged “to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research”, but five months later has this promise had any effects?
July 18th saw the coalition pledge to:
- “Work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research”
- “End the testing of household products of animals”
The government themselves described these goals as “ambitious”, but “achievable” in their written ministerial statement.
These pledges may sound like a positive progression towards a fairer method of testing beauty and household products. However at closer examination, the words “work to” ring alarm bells.
Why didn’t the government simply pledge to reduce the number of animals used in scientific research? Instead they promised to “work to” reach this goal. As a result, four months later, the outlook is very much the same for animal testing.
3,642,517 Living Animals
According to the Home Office’s most recent statistics 3,642,517 living animals had experiments started on them in the last year.
That figure translates to just under 10,000 animals undergoing tests each day.
Animal rights charity, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA highlighted: “Almost every single one of those animals will have been killed – either as part of the experiment, after it was over, or as a result of its effects.”
Looking closely at the government’s annual Animals Scientific Procedures Division and Inspectorate report from the last year, many more issues are brought to light. Not only were an enormous number of animals forced to endure tests, but the conditions in which some took pace are shocking.
All so-called research centres must hold a license and undergo inspections from the Animals Scientific Procedures Inspectorate, ASPI. These inspections totalled approximately 2,000 in 2010, relating to roughly only one inspection per centre in an entire year. In their report of these inspections the ASPI highlighted an abundance of issues.
Although the centres are not named in the report, their shocking behaviour is described. The following is just some quotes from the document.
Item B12: “Twenty conscious adult rats were decapitated, without project licence authority, over a period of three months. The project licence holder and the personal licensee mistakenly believed that decapitation of adult rats was a Schedule 1 method of humane killing.
Item C3: “Thirty-four genetically altered mice died, and a further 14 were killed humanely, as a result of a failure of the temperature control unit within the animal room which resulted in raised room temperature. The alarms had been switched off and the failure of the steam valve to close was attributed to faulty maintenance.
This lack of respect or care for animals is consistent throughout the findings of the report, as these other examples demonstrate.
Item C5: “On two separate occasions, the failure of a water pipe in an animal house resulted in the deaths by drowning of a number of guinea pigs.”
Item C6: “Two ferrets which drank a quaternary ammonium disinfectant (Super Q) that had mistakenly been put in their drinking water were, after some delay, killed humanely.”
Does this really sound like ‘working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research‘?
These findings show that new measures desperately need to be put into place. Unless a regulatory body, like the government, acts then they will continue to act in this way.
You Can Help
While the figures may look grim, some businesses are making progress and saying no to animal testing.
Products, from lipstick to hair dye, can now carry the Leaping Bunny or BUAV seal of approval. This logo guarantees that the product is certified cruelty free under the Humane Cosmetics and Human Household Products standards.
However some brands call themselves ‘against animal testing’ or claim that their products are ‘not tested on animals’. The reality is that these cosmetics are not always free from animal testing. While the brand may not support it, their products could contain ingredients that have been tested on animals.
Some of the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free approved products include:
- L’Occitane: Providers of makeup and both men’s and women’s personal care products.
- Marks & Spencer: All of M&S’s beauty, personal care and household products are 100% cruelty free.
- Sainsbury’s: Every own-brand beauty product found in Sainsbury’s is animal kind.
- Superdrug: Superdrug’s own brand provides Leaping Bunny approved household, makeup and personal care products.
- The Body Shop: Pioneers in cruelty free beauty, the Body Shop has been approved since 1976.
- The Co-operative: Co-op provide cruelty free household, beauty and personal care products.
The list of cruelty-free retailers is endless, including over 120 names. The extensive list can be accessed here.
Nonetheless animal testing labs continue to exist and their unacceptable behaviour is largely unacknowledged. While the government promise to “reduce the use of animals”, the current situation is more than worrying.
Ask yourself- is it really worth it in the name of beauty?