Beautiful Faces and Maimed Animals

by Thilaka Ravi on  July 17, 2008 at 3:55 PM Health In Focus
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"Our task must be to free widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of Nature and its beauty." Albert Einstein

The lustrous lip gloss, the enticing eye shadow or that 'hair-raising' gel, or the fragrant face cream that keep thousands of men and women hooked to the promise of forever youthful glowing looks have often a horrifying and blood curdling past.

Most of you are perhaps unaware that these beautifully packed cosmetic items have a 'bloody past'- literally speaking. Before these items can be approved and appear in the market they undergo extensive testing on countless animals like monkeys, dogs, guinea pigs and mice. During the testing the animals can be burned, blinded, poisoned or drugged to death

From the time animals tests were developed in the 1920's, companies used this method to test the efficacy of their beauty and hygiene products. It was only the fervent lobbying by undercover investigators, who documented the horrors unleashed on animals in lab tests, which helped sensitize the public on the real picture.

Two of the most common animal tests still done are eye irritancy and lethal dose/acute toxicity tests.

In eye irritancy tests, chemicals are squirted into the eyes of albino rabbits that are held immobile in stocks with only their heads sticking out and their eyelids held open with clips. Often, no anesthesia is given during the tests and some rabbits break their backs struggling to escape the pain. The damage to the eye tissue such as inflamed corneas, severe ulceration, profuse bleeding, extensive deterioration and blindness is studied till the right dose is titrated.

Acute toxicity or lethal dose tests involve force-feeding large amounts of detergent, eye shadow, face creams and gels to mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and beagles to study the animals' reactions to the chemicals and the fallout is usually pathetic—from convulsions, diarrhea, emaciation, boils, skin eruptions, to massive bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth or from every other orifice in the body. At least 50% of the animals are observed to die, usually many weeks after the trials.

Animal testing for cosmetics has alternatives

There are vital differences between animals and human beings that often render testing on animals, unreliable and dangerous. Significant non-animal tests have been developed today that are cheaper, faster, and more accurate at predicting human reactions to a product.

Manufacturers now have the option of testing the chemicals on donated human corneas instead of measuring how long it takes for a chemical to burn away the cornea of a rabbit's eye. Likewise, latest research has successfully proved that human skin cultures could be grown and ordered for irritancy testing.

Companies that guarantee "cruelty-free" cosmetics
Beautiful Faces and Maimed Animals
Beautiful Faces and Maimed Animals

Even though Animal testing is legal in a majority of countries like the US strong public protests in the '90s have led companies like Benetton cosmetics, Avon, Revlon, and Estee Lauder to announce that they would be permanently banning animal testing for their products.

Other companies that don't conduct any animal tests, unless they are required by law include Body shop, Legend, Allens Naturally, Color Me Beautiful, Earth Alive, Giovanni Cosmetics, May Kay, Mr.Bubble, Oriflame (USA) Sante Fe, Tommy Hilfiger among many others.

Nonetheless, the reality of the matter is that there is still too little being done with many of the top cosmetic houses that have still to eliminate animal tested products from their shelves. Some of the names that have cropped up on this list include - Arm and Hammer, Oil of Olay (Proctor and Gamble), Clairol, L'Oreal, Max Factor, Cover Girl, Pantene and Unilever's products.

The ethics of mutilating animals to develop drugs and products for cosmetic and Pharmaceutical industry is forcing governments, companies and individuals to re-assess our stand on this important issue.

Despite tougher legislation and promises being made across Europe and the United states on animal testing there is a new wave of change in the air, "Outsourcing of cruelty to animals".

New studies have observed that globalization has facilitated major Western pharmaceutical companies to outsource substantial manufacturing and clinical trial works to India and China. Says Jason Baker, Asia- Pacific director for PETA, "We are very aware and very concerned about this recent and disturbing trend of companies to contract with laboratories in countries in which animal welfare oversight is poor and public awareness is low."

Wake up Call to Ban Animal testing for cosmetics in India - a Start

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The Indian division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has written a letter to India's Health Minister Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, requesting him to "ban cruel and archaic tests" of cosmetics on animals. The Indian Council for Medical Research has agreed to the suggestions in the letter and promised to endorse them in future.

The letter has once again brought into world focus the bio-ethical issue of animal testing for cosmetics. But it is lacking the support of the Indian population to contrive the changes required to make a real difference.

However Indian observers reckon that India is a more mature venue for chemistry and drug discovery activities while Chinese firms are concentrating on pre-clinical testing, animal experimentation and manufacturing.

PETA India comes to the rescue of animals People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an animal rights organization based in the United States with affiliated offices in many countries worldwide. PETA India, headquartered in Mumbai was launched in January 2000. The organization initiates relief for animals in distress in prime areas like food and leather industries, the entertainment industry and animal testing in labs.

PETA India has saved infinite animal lives and bettered their quality of life by tirelessly spearheading investigative work, educating policy makers and the public on animal abuse and the right of all animals to be treated with respect. Its other activities include research, animal rescues, organizing special events involving celebrities and garnering public attention for the cause of animals through national media coverage.

True beauty is......

"Beauty is not in the face;
Beauty is a light in the heart." Khalil Gibran

Apart from governmental legislation, the only way to stop companies from misusing animals lies within the power of the consumers. It is up to individuals like us to make the difference in our society. And for this to take place we first need to be aware of how the products we eat, put on our bodies and use it in our day to day life originate. As buyers we need to boycott the products of companies that have not given up testing on animals, "to write and tell them why you won't be applying their eye shadow, cleaning your clothes with their detergent, or washing your child's hair with their shampoo." Living in a time when information is available at the click of a button ignorance can no more be an excuse - so rise and show your protest by boycotting these unnecessary luxuries from our lives.

Source: Medindia

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Thought provoking article but how can we bring out cosmetics without testing? a tricky position.


The above news item on Medndia is so thought provoking and an eye-opener.Thilakaravi, the news provider has done a perfect narration that gives a knee-jerk reaction. Congrats MedIndia!

We totally agree that not enough is being done in many countries to look at ways to stop using animals for testing. In some sections it may not be possible to not to use them but there are so many sections where it is unnecessary to torture these innocent creatures.

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