Cruelty Free – But Not For All

The European Union’s decision to ban the import, export and sale of cosmetics within its member countries came into effect two days ago (11th of March, 2013) without much fuss or fanfare. Even Cruelty Free International, who are praising themselves for the “win” after lobbying for the ban of cosmetic testing for forty years, note that the European Union’s policy has some flaws, including that while the new laws ban testing on the end products, it doesn’t necessarily mean that animal testing on the components used in the cosmetics will be prevented. This is outrageous, given that there is a large body of work out there detailing the effects of certain chemicals on biological entities,  including both the immediate and long term effects.

[Image source: http://girliegirlarmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/polyp_cartoon_animal_testing_cosmetics_rabbit1.jpg%5D

My question is: rather than using more and more animals to test certain chemicals again and again, why can’t the vast amount of chemistry knowledge be used to predict the effects or validate the composition of cosmetics? Hofer, et al., in their 2004 report detail similar recommendations to reduce the number of lab animals used, even before the EU ban was put in place. Furthermore, if humans are so keen on using the cosmetics, why aren’t they submitting themselves as guinea pigs, and recording the ill-effects on the intended subjects of the products?

It seems that the amount of animal cruelty for such an unimportant reason (vanity) is based on the economic return that this industry provides in taxes: according to Metro, the cosmetics industry is worth about £50 billion in Europe alone. China won’t accept imports of cosmetics that are not tested on animals, supposedly to regulate safety (yet, ironically, Chinese factory workers suffer horrible effects from being subjected to hazardous chemicals and unsafe working conditions). In fact, the report by Hofer, et al., highlights that chemical research involving animal testing isn’t shared due to “confidentiality” (even within companies), because of the researchers’ “need” to protect their financial interests.

Lately, animal advocate organisations have been trying to direct public concern by publishing images which humanise the plight of lab animals, including these :

[Images sourced from: TOP: https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQAeQK-oHtMCebMpVvt_adeauRg90oFI2IGgbvF-Io1p6VYDBBF; BOTTOM: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRCPzTdvVEQthwrII5hlS4ifNcNUyIuSLg1NQrD4Qzt9_UJpfUmkA%5D

I seriously doubt that people who use cosmetics indiscriminately will be swayed by these sorts of images, especially if they don’t care about cute, fluffy bunnies that endure horrible maiming through animal testing – images of which can be easily found using Google. Cruelty free cosmetics cost much more than their animal-tested counterparts, so unless all governments worldwide pass laws to ban this use of unnecessary animal testing, there will never be a level playing field – the majority of people will choose the cheaper product, if it does the same job.

On another note: I am a big fan of Game of Thrones, even more so now that Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannaster, has become an ambassador for Cruelty Free International, along with singer Joss Stone and comedian Ricky Gervais (whom I follow on Facebook). These famous humans advocate an end to animal testing, however, it is a bit disappointing that “star power”  is needed to establish a following for an issue which really should have been decided long ago simply by using ethics as the basis for decision making.

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2 thoughts on “Cruelty Free – But Not For All

  1. sbsm2013

    When reading this blog I was cringing – have I been blindly putting on my mascara without thinking of the animals that may have been harmed in the process of making this product?? Yep – I have. As a mother of animal loving daughters who themselves are starting to express an interest in wearing makeup this was a timely wake up call. Since reading this I have done some of my own research and was very happy to note that according to the RSPCA, animals are not used in cosmetic testing here in Australia, however we may still be purchasing products that have at some stage been developed through these methods…..back to the drawing board.
    I have since come across the Choose Cruelty Free website and am currently spreading the word to let others know that there is a list by a not for profit organisation that will ensure that when I make make up purchases in future that I will be better informed.
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  2. It’s so hard to find products that aren’t tested on animals. I like the Choose Cruelty Free website, it’s where I first discovered the Nature’s Organics Range, who not only produce toiletries and household cleaning products, but do so at a fabulous price – perfect for the budget conscious family or student, who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy ethically. I can’t say the same for cosmetics – they are still painfully expensive to buy, even just for the basics.
    Thanks for reading, and hopefully, things will be a lot easier (ethically, at least) for your girls when they get to be mothers.

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