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Name: Wayers
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Question:
I consider animal testing to be cruel and unnecessary in most cases. I do not disapprove entirely with the testing of drugs and beneficial technology on animals; but I completely have a problem with testing unimportant items, such as make up, hair spray, and other beauty products on innocent lives. Are there any other methods of testing companies can use that wouldn't involve the harming of animals? Wayers



Replies:
Experience, theoretical models and testing on cell cultures can offer guidelines for a good guess as to what will happen when you throw some new chemical into a human body, but there are examples of where even very careful guesses have proved in practice to be terribly wrong (Thalidomide and DES come to mind). Given the very high level of safety that people demand from substances that go in or on their bodies, the only testing method that is considered reliable enough at present for new chemicals is to try the stuff out on some living creature that can tell you if it hurts or is sick. And even then you must be sure the creature is as similar as possible, at least in the part of the body you are worried about, to human beings. (This is itself a real challenge, and progress in treating disease is often hampered by the lack of a suitable animal model.) Thus ultimately comes the difficult ethical choice you are concerned with: namely, who or what gets to be the guinea pig? In terms of beauty products, there are enough people who feel as you do that there are a number of product lines which are guaranteed to be made without animal testing (they use ingredients that have been tested earlier on animals and are now recognized as safe). You can find them in natural foods and ecologically-conscious stores.

Christopher Grayce



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