There is a movement around the world to end animal testing, but so far America is behind the curve in this regard. This needless cruelty has consumers looking for alternative products. Cruelty-free companies, with the label of a leaping, happy bunny, are receiving booming profits. This success is attracting mainstream companies, and legislation is following the money. Indeed, it is the monetary motivations over the moral ones that move the market. Consumers around the world can be encouraged; they have demanded this phase shift in business and ethics.
Testing on animals for toiletries and cosmetics was banned in 2009 throughout Europe, but this trending curve has left America behind in the dust. Companies got around this first step by creating their product outside of Europe, and bringing it back in for sale. As of March 2013, cosmetic and toiletries products that are not certified cruelty-free are banned from sale in Europe. Following suit last year Israel and India did the same.
Science produced the first context for experimenting on animals, and now science has come full circle by producing a remedy for this cruelty. A scientific discovery enabling the decline of animal testing is the ability to grow real human skin in laboratories. This petri dish skin can be used for all cosmetic and many of the drug testing animals are used for. This is an improvement over the previous methods of animal testing because this new skin in a very close match for human skin.
Although there is much progress on ending animal testing around the world, America is still left behind the global kindness curve. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA: 7 U.S.C. § 2131) is the only federal law that protects animals used for testing. The USDA is responsible for monitoring and enforcing this law. With 7,750 facilities to police and only 115 inspectors, appropriate supervision and implementation of the law is impossible. Even when a facility is found in violation, the punishment is usually so slight as to be negligible. America needs to catch this global wave, and revise the policy of animal testing.
The Washington Post reported in 2008 that every batch of Botox used in the U.S. is checked for potency and safety. Mice are injected with Botox until a dose is found that kills roughly half the animals. This has been deemed the safe gauge of potential harm for people. Every year, over 3 million doses of Botox temporarily smooth American wrinkles. Pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies in America claim they have no adequate alternatives for this type of testing. A federal panel made up of 15 federal agencies has been appointed to seek out alternatives. The panel is called the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM). Animal welfare groups claim the committee is more of an asset than a liability, and may have been set-up as a front for efficient investigation. This committee has approved four alternatives, while its European equivalent has approved 34 with another 170 in the works. Results all come from motivation, and it is in the power of the American consumer to demand animal testing stops.
Commentary by Grace Pollari