ETHICAL DILEMMA ASSIGNMENT 3
Name: Hoo Hui Xian Student ID: S10172235DClass: T01
Animal testing on cosmetic products has been practiced in the beauty industry for many years although many brands have moved towards cruelty-free testing methods. Many major beauty brands such as MAC Cosmetics claimed that human volunteers and vitro testing are used to conduct tests. However, their products have to comply with the mandatory animal testing in countries such as China as part of the safety assessment. (“Working Toward A Cruelty-Free World”, n.d.)
Pain is inflicted on the animals when they are exposed to cosmetics ingredients during the tests. These tests include chemicals being rubbed onto their bare skin. To test the effect of skin and eye irritation caused by the chemicals, chemicals are dripped into rabbit’s eyes without pain relief. Animals are also forced to consume chemicals to determine the dose that will result in death. After the tests, the animals are killed by asphyxiation or decapitation where pain relief is not provided. (“Fact Sheet: Cosmetic Testing”, n.d.)
Animals experience pain in the name of aesthetics where many females can apply cosmetic products without worrying about the safety of the products. The action of animal testing can be justified as it benefits the greatest number of females with the greatest good and causes the least suffering to the majority. The treatment of millions of laboratory animals is right if billions of people are able to use the cosmetic products safely, without threatening their health. It is impossible to determine and make comparison between the suffering and pleasure of individuals. Only numbers of those living and dying before and after an action can be estimated. (Isacat, Utilitarianism , 2014)
Painism is a counter argument to utilitarianism. Painism refers to the minority not being permitted to suffer for the majority. The severity of pain in an individual is morally more important than the total number of sufferers. Pain is made as the basic moral issue and the importance of animal rights and human rights is being emphasised. (Isacat, Painism , 2014)
Animals are able to experience pain and distress as their nervous systems contain the same biochemicals as humans. Many would rather avoid an hour’s torture than gain an hour’s pleasure as pain is more powerful than pleasure. (Ryder, 2005) Hence, every living thing with a will to live has the right to live without suffering from physical pain and be treated with respect. Animal testing deprives the animals the right to choose to live. Their rights of living a life free from pain and suffering have been taken away by researchers. Many of the experiments cause pain to the animals involved and reduce their quality of life. (“Why Animal Rights?”, n.d.)
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT:
The government for countries that are still practicing animal testing on cosmetics should ban this practice. It is possible to move towards a cruelty-free society as a cosmetic company, ‘The Body Shop’ has managed to survive in the industry without the use of animal testing. (“Ban Animal Testing on Cosmetic Products and Ingredients”, n.d.) In addition, animal testing on cosmetic products is not required by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine their safety. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure the safety of the cosmetic products. Cosmetics manufacturers are advised to use any appropriate testing methods which are effective for ensuring the safety of their cosmetic products. (Brucculieri, 2018) Therefore, companies can use other alternatives for its safety assessment on the cosmetic products.
China is expected to be the world’s largest cosmetics market in a few years. However, some companies have avoided selling beauty products there due to the mandatory animal testing regulation. Animal testing is mandatory as China has a bad reputation of poor quality products and fakes. If animal testing is banned in China, many beauty brands can enter Chinese market without receiving any backlash from the consumers. The cosmetic companies in the beauty industry hope to be recognized as cruelty-free because the demand for cosmetic products is growing among younger women. The ban of animal testing requires companies to seek for other alternatives to carry out the tests. The labs approved by the Chinese FDA may lack the capability to carry out alternative methods which requires training and certification. (Chang, 2018) The lack of capability to carry out alternative methods may hinder China from moving towards a cruelty-free society.
China may not have the capability to carry out other alternative methods due to lack of training. Hence, the Chinese government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) where support from IIVS experts would organize workshops to train scientists in China on the use of in vitro methods for testing on cosmetics. (“Working with China”, n.d.)
With the ban of animal testing, companies have to seek for other alternative methods to conduct testing. Companies that practice animal testing on cosmetics can emulate the practices of ‘The Body Shop’. The Body Shop products replaces experiments on animals with alternative methods such as using computer data, laboratory-created tissues and human volunteers. Existing data is used in In-silico (computer-based) analysis to assess the suitability of similar ingredients through a process of extrapolation of this information. Laboratory-produced skin is grown from human skin cells which allows safety checks on cells to be conducted. The cells react virtually the same way as human skin. No harm is caused on people or animals during the process. Another method would be applying a small amount of cosmetic products on a person’s skin using patch testing to determine if the product is safe and effective for usage. This is usually done at the final stage of testing a new formulation. (“Ban Animal Testing on Cosmetic Products and Ingredients”, n.d.)
Is animal testing cruelty or science? Many consider it as science as the results gathered benefits the majority. However, cruelty on the animals is practiced during the experiments. Research can be done without inflicting pain on innocent animals where the interests of both parties are taken care of. Consumers can play a part in putting an end to animal testing on cosmetics by purchasing products with “cruelty-free” labels. This pressures the companies seek other testing techniques to ensure its safety.