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Animal Testing Bites Cosmetic Companies Again

Ooops. I read this story about Avon and animal testing and it looks like they are in a bit of trouble. According to the story, Avon is being sued (along with Estee Lauder and Mary Kay) for conducting animal testing while claiming that they don’t.

The reason, they sell products in China and the Chinese government requires animal testing of cosmetic products.

Animal testing in China

These companies are in a bit of a bind. They like the sales (and the potential is huge) from China but they must comply with the regulations of the country. If you want to sell cosmetics in China, you have to test your products on animals.

The reported position of these companies is that they do not test on animals or ask other companies to test on animals “…except when absolutely required by law.”

The problem for them is that they tout themselves as a cruelty free company that does not test on animals. They didn’t include the foot note “…except when absolutely required by law” in their advertising. They really should have.

Unfair treatment

Of course, I don’t think allowing any company to claim their products are “cruelty free” is right. Companies who have conducted and continue to conduct animal testing for cosmetic ingredients should not be tarred and feathered because of their actions. It is these companies that have made it possible for other companies to create their “cruelty free” cosmetics. Almost every ingredient that is used in cosmetics was tested on animals. The only reason a “cruelty free” product can exist is because some company, some time in the past tested the ingredients on animals.

Hopefully, this issue will be going away in the next 5 to 10 years when we finally develop animal testing alternatives that work and are acceptable to governments. But until then, companies shouldn’t be claiming that they don’t test on animals when they do and they shouldn’t be claiming “cruelty free” while using chemicals that were previously tested on animals.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Duncan 03/11/2012, 11:34 am

    The only companies that can get away with animal testing are pet food companies. I have a colleague who worked for one of them, and the test subjects were better looked after than the employees.
    If the Programme “Dirty Jobs” wants a good episode, animal technician in one of those places would be a good one. The phrase nitrogen balance hides a whole multitude of sins. What goes in is easy, the other side of the equation isn’t so nice (although the subjects are more than happy to donate samples)

    The way round all this? China only products maybe. or prehaps a proper explaination of what these companies do and don’t do. Along with what they pay other companies to do on their behalf.
    Animal testing of finished products, certainly in the UK has been a product killer from the public’s point of view for decades. Using regular materials, and testing finished products on human beings for reward is better from everyones point of view as there is no argument about cross species validity, and no fluffies were hurt during the process

  • Pedro 03/09/2012, 11:02 pm

    I like brands which clearly say they test on animals and explain why, when etc. (some examples: Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Shiseido and Johnson & Johnson).

    The companies which say they don’t test on animals usually are very confusing. Here an example:

    Read the description from Amore Pacific (a really big – and great – South Korean cosmetic company) on Sephora’s site:

    “As a brand dedicated to achieving health and beauty with natural botanicals, AMOREPACIFIC does not test ingredients or products on animals.””

    Then, go to Pubmed and look for papers published by Amore Pacific. Type “amorepacific + rats”. The result: there are about 16 scientific studies using rats made by Amorepacific :

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=amorepacific%20rats

    Conclusion: this company and Sephora are just telling a part of the story. Ok., they don’t test the ingredients and products on animals, but they do a lot of basic research on animals.

  • Nancy Liedel 03/09/2012, 11:55 am

    Everything, well almost, has been tested on animals. I’m in a quandary how to put it. I don’t buy from several manufacturers who I know do test on animals. Primary facilities in China.

    One of the reasons I formulate, is that I know some products are safe because of animal testing and some of the animal testing is nonsense. Please! Put a bunny in a bath of Silica Powder 15 times more than even the worst mines in the world expose their people to and yes, that rabbit is going to get silicosis. I could have called that outcome when I was six. My kids can call that outcome. It’s a C:\duh moment (nerd joke).

    I can’t offer my body for testing after death, because if they come up with some major patent-able idea, my family could claim some of the money. They wouldn’t. We’re not much into that sort of thing, but I’d rather they used my dead meat than some dog, bunny, fuzzy-wuzzy.

    The EU allows no animal testing, the Chinese demand it and we’re in the middle raising our flags of hypocrisy, while using something that was tested on an animal at some time. So my animal testing statement? I have no clue what to say about it. “I don’t test on animals, I don’t buy products currently tested on animals, or companies that will not release a testing statement to me.” Those, btw, are the big ones that my suppliers buy from. Not just my suppliers. My suppliers are kind and forthcoming and I love them.

    Yet, I have studied on animals. Mine. I made a dog shampoo designed to help my ancient pomeranian to stop itching. I tried it out on me first. Fine, but my hair was a wreck that day. It was a way off pH for me. On the dog, great. I’d spent months studying the differences between dog fur, and human hair. Read everything I could and did it. The dog is fine and the warm baths help his tired old self (He is around 20 and on his last leg, until we are ready to make, “The APPOINTMENT!” Then, he turns into a puppy who can jump onto the bed by himself. I know I’m anthropomorphisng, but that dog has a pretty good idea of how the world works.

    So were is this? Nowhere. I don’t know where to stand on it, want other ways to test, with human skin grown in a lab and hey, they can grow bladders in a lab now.

    Good non animal testing is around the corner. Thank God. However, there are going to be people who object to that. Because it’s not as natural as testing on an animal. If they are growing skin with stem cells, then was it a person? No matter what we do, who we try to please, even small formulators, are scientists and not to be trusted.

    We, scientists, put out a bad study and everyone buys it. We re-test, as we are supposed to, find the first study to be flawed, put that out and it’s a busy news day. It’s not important. We are just trying to harm the first study. A human study. “WE,” are evil. We also run the studies they hang onto with such wind-bag-ism.

    We are messed up no matter what. I’d say, bring in the clones, for skin, but the objections would befoul the local labs.

    As for being a small company and being a scientist. Yes, I am. I wish everyone who formulated thought about it like that. You are making science and it’s lovely!! You are making the best product you can. I hope.

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