Recently, I’ve noticed that many cosmetic, household, and even clothing brands have been trying to push their ‘cruelty free’ aspect as part of their advertising. For the iSearch essay, I want to know more about the pros and cons of animal testing, the possible alternatives and their drawbacks. I would look into the history of animal testing, about why it was and still is being done. Is it truly necessary for these products to be tested on animals? How are these animals being tested? I began to wonder that if some brands can be successful without the use of animal testing, why do other brands continue to do so?
I only know some information about the subject that I have seen or heard on the internet. Animals are used for the testing of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other products, as well as research in various scientific fields. Not to mention some animals have been used in classrooms for dissections and other products. There are so many branches in which animal testing is used, but are there alternative ways of testing that do not involve animals? If so, would they produce similar results? Are there any limitations that prevent companies from using these methods?
Before I started my research, I first looked at some recent news articles to get a general idea of how it is viewed in society today. I learned that animal testing for cosmetics has been banned in the EU, and the bill to officially ban the practice has reached the Senate in Canada. I also learned that in order to sell cosmetics in China, their regulatory agencies require animal testing on their products. This puts many companies in an awkward situation, as animal testing is banned in some areas, but required in another. While I did not use these articles as an official source for my essay, I was still able to gain some background information before looking at the databases.
I then began to look into the Chaffey college databases in order to get more reliable sources. I started off by searching ‘Animal Testing’. The search results were fairly broad, but there was a source in which the author seeks to clarify common misconceptions people have about the topic. I also found a source that describes the ethical and scientific ideology behind animal testing and research. However, many of the other results were off-topic or not specific enough. I then added the word ‘Alternative’ to the search, which narrowed the sources to those describing the different options organizations could use. From there, I changed the time frame to 2010-2017 in order eliminate older documents. Near the top, I found an article giving an overview of possible methods that could replace the use of animal testing in the cosmetic industry
The first article, titled “The truth behind animal testing”, outlines the benefits of animal testing as well as introduces the reasons why people are opposed to it. The author explains that while many organizations, such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) condemn the use of animals in medical research, the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have strict regulations for animal testing. In fact, mistreatment of animals is rare. She lists tissue culture and computer modeling as alternatives, yet states that these methods would not provide as much information. “According to the John Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, scientists say we simply do not yet understand the complexities of the human body well enough to be able to design suitable non-animal alternatives.” (Sun)
“Ethical and Scientific Considerations Regarding Animal Testing and Research” is similar to the first article, but elaborated more on the subject. It describes the various regulations placed by governments around the world regarding animal testing, as well as questions the validity of the relation between results obtained through animal testing and the actual effect on humans. It lists scientific advancements that could only have been obtained through the use of animal testing. (Ferdowsian) In today’s society, there is no method that can perfectly mimic the results of animal testing, which means that in some cases, animal testing is the only option available. Some diseases, for example, require a cure to be found as soon as possible. A virtual simulation may not be able to properly predict the effects on a living organism.
The article “New Models in Cosmetics Replacing Animal Testing’ describes the current situation in the cosmetics industry. The author writes that “Reliance on animal testing, has actually hindered the evaluation of many chemicals and ingredients inside and outside the cosmetics industry. Animal-based tests take too long and are too expensive, often requiring several years and millions of dollars or more to carry out.” (Mone) He introduces various alternatives such as ‘in vitro (cell-culture based)” and “in silico (virtual or computational”) testing. While these methods have not been completely perfected, the author claims that these techniques will play a large part in future research. “In vitro and in silico testing will play a much larger part in how we assess chemicals in the future. It will happen; it is just a question of how quickly.” (Mone) In the cosmetics industry, it is more plausible for these alternatives to be implemented, as in this case, animal testing may do more harm than good. If these methods prove to be more suitable for their needs, it may be easier for the whole industry to eventually make the transition away from animal testing.
Through this experience, I was able to discover a more effective way to find the sources I need. Instead of scrolling through all the results of a simple search, I can manipulate the filters to narrow the search down to those that meet my requirements. When analyzing a source, I would read the abstract and skim through the headers in order to determine whether it is relevant to my topic. If were able to redo the research process, I would pick a specific topic rather than a vague one. In this case, I would base my essay on ‘Animal Testing Alternatives’ rather than simply ‘Animal Testing’. This would have prevented me from looking at all the information, then realizing how long it would take to write an entire essay on the subject.
The article titled, “New Models in Cosmetics Replacing Animal Testing” seemed to be the most reliable for me, as it had quotations from various people who seemed to be knowledgeable about the topic. The article by Shany Sun convinced me that the practice of animal testing is not as invasive as I had previously thought, as long as it is done properly. She appealed to logic as she included a counterclaim and reasoning against those who were opposed. Regardless, when I see the opportunity, I will probably buy the brands that do not test on animals or are cruelty-free.
In response to the issue, I would agree with one of the articles above, in that even though animal testing is not the most ethical practice, it is not as cruel as some activists claim. I had assumed the animal testing consisted of torturing the animals or subjecting them to harmful substances. It was relieving to learn that while the governments of some countries do not fully ban the practice, there are at least regulations that will help prevent animal cruelty. As for my past knowledge, I knew that there were possible alternatives, but I also assumed that there would be limitations preventing organizations from doing so. Otherwise, most companies would have already implemented these methods. I hope that in the future, a process in which we are able to obtain the same results as animal testing, but without the animals actually being tested, is developed. Even though there are restrictions in place, we should not involve animals in the process if it is not necessary.
Ferdowsian, Hope R. and Nancy Beck. “Ethical and Scientific Considerations Regarding Animal Testing and Research.” Plos ONE, vol. 6, no. 9, Sept. 2011, pp. 1-4. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024059.
As the titles states, this article describes the ethical and scientific considerations in animal research. It lists the various actions taken to protect the rights of both human and animal research subjects, and analyzes how the results are used. It also specifies the achievements made possible through animal research, as well as technological advances in alternative forms of testing. I am using this to support the idea that animal testing is not as cruel as it is commonly portrayed, and without it, many diseases may not have a cure. I believe this source is quite reliable, as it was listed in a college database, credits many references.
Mone, Gregory. “New Models in Cosmetics Replacing Animal Testing.” Communications of the ACM, vol. 57, no. 4, Apr. 2014, pp. 20-21. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1145/2581925.=
This source describes various alternatives to animal testing, specifically in the cosmetics industry. The author explains that while they are valid, the results are not as accurate as those that involved animals. I used this article to describe the alternate methods and their drawbacks. I would say that this is fairly reliable, as it quotes people with credibility.
Sun, Shany. “The Truth behind Animal Testing.” Young Scientists Journal, vol. 5, no. 12, Jul-Dec2012, pp. 83-85.
I used the article “The Truth behind Animal Testing” as a means to describe the background of the topic. The author describes the reasoning behind those in opposition and provides a counterclaim and evidence to support. She describes the benefits of animal testing over the alternative methods. The author is a high school student, so I would not say she is that credible on the subject, but the information she provided seemed to be relatively accurate.