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In 1983 the pharmaceutical company Pfizer carried out a special study to see if animal experiments could correctly identify cancer-causing chemicals. The results would be vitally important because despite costing millions of dollars, no one really knew whether the tests provided adequate protection against hazardous substances. Human findings were compared with experimental data from rats and mice for all chemicals known to cause cancer in people. The outcome was disturbing: in most cases animal tests had given the wrong answer. The report concluded that we would have been better off to toss a coin! The quarrel between those who would endow animals with "rights" and those who say that animals must be used if science is to move forward remains as heated as ever. Despite the widespread practice of harmful animal testing, there are numerous viable alternatives that prevent the unnecessary torture of innocent animals.
Today, most people agree that causing unnecessary harm to an animal is wrong and our laws reflect that sentiment. Neglecting a pet by depriving it of food, water, or medical attention is a misdemeanor crime penalized by costly fines or in some cases jail time. Felonies include more sever forms of animal cruelty such as torture. Laws that protect animals from cruelty are a recent idea. Until the 1800's no such laws existed. Public displays of animal abuse were commonplace in nineteenth-century England; in fact, animal fighting was considered healthy entertainment. When the House of Commons was scheduled to debate an animal protection bill that sought to abolish bullbaiting, a vicious battle between a dog and a bull that often ended in a bloody death for both animals, members of Parliament considered the issue so insignificant that many failed to attend the session (Hurley 8.)
Although anticruelty laws proposed during the early 1800's were easily defeated, the idea that animals deserved fair treatment was steadily becoming more and more accepted. In 1821, Richard Martin, a flamboyant and popular member of the English Parliament, introduced a bill that was aimed at preventing the cruel and improper treatment of cattle and horses. The bill was defeated at the first introduction, but the next year it passed. Most importantly, this was the first law regulating how people should treat animals. This law also prodded along other legislative efforts to abolish animal cruelty. In direct reference to the Martin law, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed, later to become the Royal SPCA. This group's purpose was to make acts of animal cruelty punishable by law. As a result of the RSPCA's activism, the Martin's law was eventually expanded to ban all types of animal fighting.
Animal experimentation-commonly referred to as vivisection-was incorporated into almost all European scientists' research and training by the 1860's. While vivisection was commonly accepted within the medical community, the general population regarded this as barbaric. By 1907, every state in the United States had an anticruelty statute on the books, and by 1923 anticruelty legislation had been expanded to cover a wide spectrum of issues (Hurley 13.) In the 1930's, there were two cases where untested products caused tragedies: an eyelash dye resulted in numerous cases of blindness and at least one death, and a cough remedy caused 107 deaths. Congress responded in 1938 by passing the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which required for the first time that all drugs be tested for safety before they are marketed (Why 4.) Next was the Animal Welfare Act that was passed in 1966, and broadened in 1970, 1976, and 1985. This most significant piece of animal protection legislation set a minimum standard for the fair treatment of animals in laboratories and by handlers and it imposed stiff penalties on violators' (Hurley 13.)
The animal testing issue has made a significant impact on the cosmetics and toiletries market in the recent years. Public interest in animal welfare began to grow in the mid-1970's when consumers became aware of the scope of animal testing and learned about procedures, such as the Draize test, in which cosmetics are forced into rabbits' eyes to determine if the products are harmful. The negative publicity and consumer pressure surrounding these practices prompted many cosmetic companies to stop testing their products on animals and begin labeling their wares as "cruelty-free." (James-Enger 1.)
A number of major brands and large amount of small companies are now advertising themselves as "cruelty-free."(Animal 1) About 250 companies in the country make and sell cosmetics without testing on animals (Holmes 2.) Despite the claims of being cruelty-free, it is unclear just what this means. Sometimes the parent company is still carrying out animal tests on ingredients and on its other brands (Animal 1.) "The word 'natural' has become a buzzword," sa
Quotes talked about in this paper
Terminology mentioned in this paper
pharmaceutical company, cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals,
Names mentioned in this essay
Congressman Koch, Steven Ragland, a flamboyant and popular member, Paul Penders, Martin, Wendy Rogel, Andrew Rowan, Martin Stephens, Robyn Wesley, Adrian Morrison, Gary Francione,
Organizations referenced in this research material
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, National Institutes of Health, House of Commons, Tufts Centre for Animals, Parliament, RSPCA, Congress, Food and Drug Administration, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Medical Research Modernization Committee, Columbia University, US government, Humane Society, BWC, English Parliament,
Locations included in this paper
guinea, United States, Holland, California, England, New York City, New York, Petaluma, Norfolk, Virginia, Washington DC, Britain,
Health Conditions referenced in this research material
blindness, cancer, AIDS, high blood pressure,
Drug mentioned in this report
Companies referenced in this research paper
Colgate-Palmolive, Avon, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble,
Keywords mentioned in this research paper
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