Something I came across has been bothering me for a while now. Everyday, many of the FMCG goods that I use, are in a way or another, the cause for deaths of hundreds of rabbits, mice, rodents and what not.Pause. Yes, it’s true. Atleast, I was quite shocked on knowing this, and took some time for me to swallow this information.
Animal testing, also known as vivisection, has been long debated, and many regulations have come and gone to change the scenario of animal testing. But the issue still remains. And worse, there are government bodies that actually expect animal testing as a pre-requisite before launching the products in their countries. The U.S and EU are examples. There’s too much of detail needed in addressing this issue. The extent to which an animal is used, the kind of tests that are carried out, the amount of physiological discomfort that is caused to the animals are some of the concerns. The U.S and EU allow animal testing provided it is minimized and causes less suffering. So where do we draw the line? Take the case of Loreal. It claimed that it hasn’t conducted animal testing since 1989, but in reality, the new ingredients that go into it’s products are animal tested before being used and only then will it be able to launch it’s products in EU.
There are many arguments for and against vivisection. Those who support vivisection claim that it’s the main mode of testing any product or its ingredients, so as to prevent any sort of damage to the human beings who will use it. But when a lot of money is being poured into research for new cosmetics, detergents, perfumes (all to compete for market share), haven’t we reached a stage where we need to think – ok that’s enough of cosmetics in the market, and we need to really work on other testing processes that can replace vivisection?.
One thing, I haven’t read up enough on the kind of tests, regulations that exist, and related stuff to consider both sides of the issue. I shall do that and get back with more information. Nevertheless, I am strongly against this whole idea of torturing animals for the selfish pursuit of finding something better for human beings. And I believe, given the unsatiable nature of man, that pursuit is endless.
What needs to be done, as a producer of consumer goods?
* The FMCG market is a huge red ocean, with new brands being launched everyday by various companies. These firms mint money with every brand they launch. There are hundreds of brands for consumer goods in the market already. Instead of constantly bombarding the consumer with these brands, why not channel a part of that money into finding ethical and more reliable alternatives for testing? Testing is a major part of their R&D for all the products, and if a firm can show that they are using alternative methods and genuinely striving to find alternative methods, it definitely will have a competitive edge over other firms.
* Some firms can come together, set up a separate R&D meant for coming up with alternative non-animal testing methods. Apart from being a visible effort to replace vivisection, it can also combine R&D knowledge and talent in these firms and pace up the process.
Most of the tests that are conducted even today are the toxicity and skin irritation tests – which are again done on animals. (Ex. The infamous Draize test). There is a dire need to find alternatives which do not involve the torture of millions of animals. This calls for a change in the mind set of pro-vivisectionists – That it is not the only means and can be avoided in testing of products and ingredients.
If I really care, what can I do?
* Try to replace the consumer goods in you house – from the ones that practise vivisection to brands that do not and are animal & eco friendly. I understand it’s a tough job, but there are loads of websites which can help you out here, and which have some extent of credibility. It’s a tough and long road, but the point is to create awareness and get people to encourage animal friendly products over the others.
Frankly, this is about what I could think of as a consumer. Replacing is not an easy job. 2 major hurdles that I faced when I started off to think about eliminating pro-animal testing products in my room:
* Accessibility to alternatives : The eco & animal friendly products are not as easily available as the others. I need to actually make a bit of effort (which I wouldn’t mind) and more often than not, I don’t find alternatives.
* Affordability : Usually such products have a niche market and are priced for the higher end consumer. Before Bodyshop came under Loreal, even if I wanted to buy Bodyshop, it’s too expensive, and I’d rather gift it to someone.
The companies that are actually trying to promote animal friendly products need to work on this. I believe that on an average, if a consumer is given a choice of these products, he will go for the animal & eco friendly brands, provided it is accessible and affordable. The key is for these companies to reach out to the markets with their message.
Change is needed in this direction. Consumers should no longer be blind to the reality behind the products they use. Can you reverse roles with animals and would you accept the same? Imagine, with the advancement in technology, what if artificial intelligence takes over human beings, and we are then at their mercy just because they have very advanced circuitry that has overtaken man’s mental abilities? Robots ruling humans in future, humans ruling animals now. It’s all the same. And we shouldn’t let this happen.