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Last month, as Black Panther was breaking box office records and teenage activists were shaming the NRA, calls for animal testing bans were also making headlines around the world.

First, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act entered the state legislature. If passed as is, the bill will ban the sale of animal-tested hygiene or beauty products such as makeup, shampoos, and deodorants throughout California by 2020. It would also encourage manufacturers across the country to stop selling animaltested products. The bill will bring California law in line with regulations in nearly 40 countries―including the European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Turkey―that already prohibit the sale of new animal-tested cosmetics. (The California bill follows anti-animal-testing legislation proposed in Hawaii in January.)

Also last month, Members of the European Parliament from the EU’s Environment Committee called for a worldwide ban on the use of animals for cosmetics testing. The EU’s ban on animal-tested cosmetics went into effect in 2013, and the MEPs pointed out that this has not prevented the EU cosmetics industry from thriving and providing some 2 million jobs.

Although the U.S. government currently mandates that the toxicity of drugs be tested on animals and shown to be safe, analyzing the toxicity of household products like cosmetics and detergents on animals is not legally required. Yet the FDA and other agencies encourage manufacturers to conduct whatever toxicological tests they believe are appropriate to substantiate the safety of their products. Thus, every year companies subject millions of conscious animals to an extensive range of gruesome “safety tests” in which corrosive chemicals are dripped into their eyes, toxic compounds already known to be fatal to humans are pumped into their stomachs, caustic irritants are rubbed into their skin, or some other unspeakable torture results in a painful death.

Sadly, the abuse of animals in the name of product safety goes well beyond the substances being tested. The same kind of frustration we see among animal agriculture and slaughterhouse workers—who often react to the extreme stress of their jobs by lashing out at animals—is evident among lab technicians, who may be entirely desensitized to the pain and distress of animal victims. These test lab workers have been known to beat animals, who are routinely left to languish in filthy cages between experiments and denied even the slightest kindness.

Fortunately, a growing number of companies have abandoned animal testing in favor of humane alternatives, and many organizations are campaigning against the use of animals as test subjects.

What You Can Do:

1. Don’t buy products tested on animals. Look for the Leaping Bunny logo and download the app on your smartphone.

2. Then … Support companies such as The Body Shop, Dr. Bronner’s, and Kiss My Face that sell products not tested on animals. (Here’s a list of vegan makeup brands and here’s one of drug store brands.)

3. Urge your legislators to support the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2790), which would end the manufacture and sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the U.S. Click here to begin.

4. Contact companies you like and ask if they test on animals or use animal ingredients. If they do, tell them you oppose any animal testing and the use of animal ingredients.

5. Sign and share the global Forever Against Animal Testing petition, which will be presented to the United Nations when 8 million signatures have been collected.

6. Raise awareness. Wear t-shirts, stickers, and buttons that tell people you don’t support animal testing. You’ll find them at sites such as Café Press, Etsy, and Zazzle, as well as from vegan companies like Herbivore and Meaningful Paws.

7. Share this post with your family and friends and ask them to take action, too!

 

 

 

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Ansel. Photo by Tara Baxter

Ansel. Photo by Tara Baxter

My calendar says it’s International Rabbit Day, so what better time to remind you of the many ways you can help these remarkable animals? Despite being one of the most popular companion animals in the country, rabbits are among the most exploited.

Domestic rabbits—cherished for their playful, gentle natures—are skinned for their fur, blinded to test cosmetics, bred for show, drugged for science, clipped for wool products, pulled out of magicians’ hats, killed in vivisection labs, sold as food for pet snakes, and raised and shipped by breeders. To add insult to all this injury, we chop off their paws and tout the rabbit’s foot as a “good luck” charm.

So here are 10 things you can do—and not do—to make their lives a little better.

1. Adopt, Don’t Shop. If you decide a rabbit is right for you, adopt one from a local animal shelter or the House Rabbit Society rather than buying one. You’ll save a life and discourage rabbit breeding.

2. Make Companion Rabbits Part of Your Family. Don’t relegate a rabbit to a backyard hutch or cage. These are affectionate, playful animals who deserve to live with you indoors, where they are safe from predators and inclement weather.

3. Don’t Buy Clothing or Accessories Made from Rabbits. Or any other animal. That means no rabbit-fur hats, no angora sweaters, no fur-trimmed coats, no leather—you get the idea.

4. Treat Wild Rabbits with Kindness. Free-living bunnies mowing through your vegetable garden or digging holes in your backyard? Please use humane methods to deal with them, such as these compassionate suggestions from the Humane Society of the United States.

5. Ask Your Market Not to Sell Them. You may be aware that Whole Foods Market recently announced it was going to stop selling bunnies in their meat cases. While this is great news, other stores still offer bunny meat. If the market where you shop does, fill out a customer comment card or speak directly with the manager and ask that they stop selling rabbits.

6. Don’t Patronize Restaurants That Serve Bunny Meat. Better yet, ask them to stop.

7. Don’t Buy Products Tested on Rabbits. No law requires it, but many U.S. companies routinely “safety test” their cosmetics and other household products on rabbits and other animals. Corrosive chemicals are dripped into their eyes, toxic compounds already known to be fatal to humans are pumped into their stomachs, caustic irritants are rubbed into their skin, or they may be subjected to an assortment of other unspeakable tortures that result in a painful death. Look for the Leaping Bunny label. In fact …

8. Support the Humane Cosmetics Act. Ask your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 2858, the Humane Cosmetics Act, which will prohibit animal testing for all cosmetic products manufactured or sold in the United States.

Photo by Tara Baxter

Photo by Tara Baxter

9. Volunteer at Your Local Shelter. There is plenty to do: Socialize the rabbits, clean their cages, bring them hay and veggies, and do whatever they need to keep them healthy and happy and to make them more adoptable. (You may need to attend a training session with the shelter staff in order to be a shelter volunteer.) Check out these tips from the House Rabbit Society for more information about volunteering.

10. Support Rescue Nonprofits. There are so many wonderful rabbit groups out there, and they all need your support, either as a donor, volunteer, or bunny foster parent. Some of my favorites include the House Rabbit Society, Rabbit Haven, Rabbit Rescue, Rabbitron, SaveABunny (from whom I adopted all my rabbits), Special Bunny, and Zooh Corner. Check Google for a group near you, or ask the House Rabbit Society for the closest chapter in your area.

 

Note: If you like the photos that accompany this post, you’ll love the Tallulah & Rabbit Friends Facebook page, maintained by Tara Baxter.

white-rabbitTwo important comments have long been made about testing cosmetics on animals in the United States. The first is that it is an extremely cruel practice responsible for the torture and death of countless rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and other animals.

The second is that no federal law requires it. (Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, cosmetics companies are prohibited from manufacturing and marketing misbranded or adulterated products, and they are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before those products reach the market. It does not say products must be tested on animals.) Nevertheless, manufacturers are encouraged to conduct whatever toxicological tests they believe are appropriate to substantiate the safety of their products. Thus, in an effort to cover their assets in the event of a lawsuit, companies subject conscious animals to an extensive range of painful “safety tests” in which corrosive chemicals are dripped into their eyes, toxic compounds already known to be fatal to humans are pumped into their stomachs, caustic irritants are rubbed into their skin, or an assortment of other unspeakable tortures that result in a painful death.

We can now add a third comment about testing cosmetics on animals in the US: Banning it might be just around the corner.

This week, a federal bill that would end animal testing for cosmetics was reintroduced* by US Representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ), Joe Heck (R-NV), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA). If passed, HR 4148—the Humane Cosmetics Act—would make it illegal for any company to conduct cosmetic animal testing, or sell cosmetic products that have been tested on animals. (The US bill comes just days after a similar bill was introduced in Canada.)

I asked Pascaline Clerc, senior director of policy and advocacy of Animal Research Issues for The Humane Society of the United States, for more information about the bill and how the public can help get it passed.

Many countries around the world—including India, Israel, and the European Union—have banned cosmetics testing on animals. What keeps the US from prohibiting it?

People thought that animal testing for cosmetics was an issue of the past. Our #BeCrueltyFree campaign in the US, and worldwide with the help of Humane Society International, had to raise awareness on this issue.

There is really nothing keeping the US from prohibiting animal testing of cosmetics:

– multi-national companies have been investing in developing alternatives, and they already have to comply with such regulations in the EU and India by using faster, cheaper, and more predictive alternatives to traditional animal tests to test new ingredients.

– more than 30 countries have legislation in place banning animal testing for cosmetics.

– our neighbor Canada has introduced similar legislation last week.

– the issue has rallied bipartisan support.

– China, where animal testing is still required for imported products and for post-marketing monitoring, is slowly making progress, and our organization is actively working in the country to change policy and educate scientists on state-of-the-art in vitro methods to test cosmetics instead of using live animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs. The HSUS, HIS, and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, in partnership with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, provided intensive laboratory-based training.

What do you believe the chances are for this bill becoming law?

More than 30 countries—home to more than 1.7 billion consumers—now have legislation in place banning animal testing for cosmetics. Similar legislation to limit or end such testing is also under consideration in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and now in the US. Of the 13 biggest importers of American cosmetics, eight countries have bans in place, legislation introduced or in negotiation, so if the US wants to remain a leader in the industry, the US will have to align their regulations with the rest of the world.

Multi-national companies have been investing in developing alternatives, and they already have to comply with such regulations in the EU and India by using faster, cheaper, and more predictive alternatives to traditional animal tests to test new ingredients. So, it would only make sense for them to have to follow the same regulations in the US and take advantage of cutting-edge technology.

Additionally, this bill has brought an unprecedented bipartisan quartet of sponsors.

What can the public do to help this bill pass?

There are two easy things that any consumers can do:

1st: Take action by urging your representative to support the Humane Cosmetics Act here.
2nd: Use your buying power to drive changes by only buying products from cruelty-free companies that you can find at http://www.leapingbunny.org

 

*This bill was previously introduced by former Representative James Moran (D-VA) in March of 2014. This new version focuses on economic issues and would go into effect in one year.


Welcome to the official blog for Striking at the Roots by Mark Hawthorne, your source for interviews, profiles, and advice for more effective animal activism.

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