Yesterday I worked my way through the hundred’s of comments on PZ’s I am Pro-Test post. One theme that kept cropping up was that a great deal of animal testing is unnecessary, and that informed and attentive consumers should be able to kill the demand for it.
I thought, therefore, that it would be worth returning to a question I talked about a while ago, in a single paragraph of a fairly lengthy DVD review:
“Why do animal tests continue when cruelty-free products are available?”
In the U.S., federal law requires that cosmetics and pharmaceutical drugs be tested in animals for safety and efficacy before you can expose humans to them.
So, what’s up with “cruelty free” labeling?
A label on your shampoo or handsoap that says “no animal testing” does not mean that the substances in the bottle were not tested on animals. They were. They were required by law to be so tested. What the label indicates is that someone else did the testing.
While the company selling the product didn’t test the substances on animals in their own facilities, there’s a good chance that they paid another company to do the animal testing. The other possibility is that the substances were tested on animals long ago, by another company.
To the extent that you regard animal testing of drugs and cosmetics as cruel, “cruelty free” products still depend on cruelty. It’s just a question of which corporate entity has conducted the testing, and which one is claiming to have clean hands while helping itself to the results of those tests (although the “no animal testing” company may well have commissioned those animal tests).
Also, it means you’ll probably get to pay more for the product than if it didn’t have the “cruelty free” label.