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Can New Technology Eventually Eliminate the Need for All Animal Testing?

The vast majority of cosmetic companies no longer need to test their products on animals in order to assure their customers will be safe. Company decision-makers and government officials alike have learned that they can instead rely on technology such as in vitro testing to provide accurate results about the chemicals in their products. But what about the many other industries that still use animals for answers? Will this trend continue across the board? There’s recently been a major push from top levels to implement technology instead of animals in order to find the right answers.

New Roadmaps

A federal committee, named the Interagency Coordinating Committee, recently came out with a report that laid out suggestions on how to replace animal testing with other forms of toxicological testing methods. Right now, there’s a certain amount of confusion about the current state of testing. Different states may require different tests, which can make for inconsistent information depending on the company, product, and location. The federal report wanted a true representation of each and every detail and discrepancy. From there, they developed a strategy for how to promote and convince both politicians and researchers alike that there’s a smarter (and less cruel) way to arrive at the same conclusions.

Understanding Testing

For all of the studies done on animals, there’s unfortunately not a lot of translation between their results and human results. Animal studies often aren’t conducted with the precision and controls that the experiments require to produce consistent results that will apply to humans.While we still don’t test on humans for obvious reasons, researchers continue harming countless animals for surprisingly few benefits. So aside from ending animal cruelty, advanced technology gives testers a better way to regulate their methodology so there’s less room for error (and ultimately, a safer product.)

How the Report Is Structured

The report is encouraging people to remain flexible when it comes to how they approach their testing solutions. Animal testing is a system that has deep roots in so many labs. Regardless of the evidence that animal testing may not be the most efficient solution, it’s always going to be difficult to implement wide-spread change. The federal report is encouraging people to start adopting new technologies such as computational models or tissue chips to replace live animal studies. (Tissue chips are artificial 3D models that replicate human organs.) These new methods may be an initial investment, but they eventually save researchers countless dollars while simultaneously improving every aspect of their organization.

Change Through Encouragement

This report does not mandate change in any way. It doesn’t even give specific ideas about how new legislation should be structured to gradually transition everyone to a new system. It’s merely pointing out that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. However, leaders of the committee do mention that legislation pertaining to animal testing is woefully outdated, which makes it difficult to see the big-picture impact on consumers, companies, and animals. The report stresses the importance of communication among researchers, as well as the benefits of keeping an open mind to alternative testing methods. They suggest that grants should also be changed to reflect the importance and validity of new alternative methods.

Lasting Effects

There’s no reason to delay replacing animal methods with new types of methods for all industries, despite the fact that it will be a major adjustment. Cosmetic companies have been able to make the switch without endangering their customers, profits, or the lives of animals. In fact, animal testing is typically more expensive than alternative methods. This report is a huge step down the road to relying on technology for better results rather than notoriously unreliable animal testing.

How Are In Vitro Testing Methods Being Used In the Cosmetic Industry?

In vitro testing has come a long way in the past several years. The cosmetic industry has benefited from advances in this form of testing, especially in regard to assessing the sensitivity of cosmetic ingredients. One of the newest forms of in vitro testing that the cosmetic industry is benefiting from involves 3D reconstruction of human skin models. For now, let’s take a close look at in vitro testing and the advantages it is bringing to the field of cosmetics.

Transforming the Cosmetic Industry Across the Globe

The cosmetic industry is greatly benefiting from in vitro testing, especially in Europe. One of the top factors that have led to an increasing popularity of this type of testing in this country is an outright ban of animal testing. There have been major advancements in in vitro testing because of this ban, causing it to become far more effective and cost-efficient than it used to be.

Europe isn’t the only place to jump on the in vitro testing bandwagon. Scientists are continuing to confirm the safety of this form of testing and its benefits over animal testing. In doing so, China has responded positively and is quickly moving away from animal testing methods. Over the next few years, this country is expected to be home to the largest cosmetics market in the world. Still yet, China hasn’t moved completely away from animal testing. In fact, it requires that cosmetic products go through animal testing before they can hit the shelves. Fortunately, though, the country is moving toward alternative testing methods, including in vitro testing. It is hoped that advancements in this type of testing and new technologies will hasten the country to eliminate animal testing requirements.

Importance of Testing In the Cosmetic Industry

The safety and efficacy of cosmetic ingredients can easily be tested through in vitro testing. The testing can confirm ingredients claimed to be used in cosmetic products as well as test for toxic properties. Many cosmetic retailers use this form of testing to both check for the efficacy of different products and meet or exceed regulatory approval.

Nearly 20 percent of the European population is affected by allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). This condition also presents a significant public health concern in the United States. With in vitro testing, though, it is possible to test cosmetics for the nearly 4,000 chemicals that have been deemed as skin sensitizers. In fact, this non-animal form of testing has been extremely effective in assessing how cosmetics interact with the body from many viewpoints, including protein binding and epidermal inflammation.

3D reconstruction of tissues is just one of the latest in vitro forms of testing that are advancing the safety of cosmetics. Results received from this form of testing can be combined with skin metabolism data, as well as with bioavailability data, to render proper identification of potential skin allergens. More so, it can help identify the characterization that goes along with ingredients’ relative potency.

Any cosmetic manufacturer must follow a strict set of rules and guidelines to stay in regulatory compliance. With in vitro testing, it is possible to assess an ingredient’s possibility of causing adverse skin reactions, including dermal corrosion.

As to be expected, the various in vitro testing methods that can be used to test ingredients according to different sets of criteria. For example, some ingredients are tested for use with oily skin while others are tested according to their ability to enhance skin firmness.

Here is a look at different testing methods for different testing purposes:

Skin Hydration and Skin Barrier

  • Full-thickness skin models
  • Reconstructed human epidermis models
  • Skin explant models

Skin Firmness

  • Dermal equivalent models
  • Normal human dermal fibroblasts models
  • Full-thickness reconstructed skin models

Oily Skin

  • 3D sebocyte cell line models
  • Sebocyte cell line models
  • Sebocyte cell line in response to androgens models

The Takeaway

As advancements continue to take place, in vitro testing is expected to become more effective, and, hopefully, it will soon be considered as a permanent replacement for animal testing.

Beautiful Breakthroughs: How Non-Animal Testing Pushes the Cosmetics Industry Forward

One of the biggest reasons why people continue to advocate for animal testing is due to its proven ability to help companies understand how different products react to the human body. For a long time, it was the only way to ensure that cosmetic companies could call their products ‘safe.’ It made it possible for researchers and innovators to test their boundaries for the good of the business, and it preemptively saved the buyer from painful skin or eye irritations from dangerous chemicals.

But non-animal testing is not an enemy to progress, nor does it increase the odds of product liability. In fact, it may be paving the way for progress in the industry, as more companies discover the benefits of in-vitro testing. This method allows researchers to determine how a consumer’s skin and eyes will react to each new ingredient without the use of live animals. By simulating real-world situations, cosmetic companies can test and create at will without having to worry about legal implications or consumer backlash.

Learn more about just a few practical ways in-vitro testing has been put into action.

Anti-Pollution Skin Care

This is a category that’s expected to explode in the next few decades as the full extent of pollution effects begin to emerge. Companies are looking into measures far beyond what’s currently available on the market to combat an array of harmful chemicals in the air. From carbon dioxide to cigarette smoke, the skin is exposed to a number of unnatural elements that it hasn’t had a chance to adapt to. Companies have already started using in vitro testing to assess how well certain ingredients perform at blocking the free radicals that stem from pollution.

Niche Beauty Alternatives

The rise of awareness amongst young people today has them looking at far more than just a price tag. They’re looking for products that fit in with their lifestyle, whether it’s religious, social, or environmental. These buyers are certainly not looking to increase unnecessary suffering for any reason. In-vitro testing has made it possible to label products as cruelty-free, which has led the way for more independent brands to pop up in the public sphere. It’s afforded more entrepreneurs a chance to get their foot in the door, and it’s created more jobs. The best part about it is that workers can actually feel good about what they do and who they serve.

Consumers Spend Less

In-vitro testing is entirely cost-effective, which means that consumers often spend less money to get the same quality. The everyday consumer marvels over how it’s even possible to get such a healthy glow for just a few bucks. Not only do companies have to worry about the logistics of caging and caring for animals during the testing period, but they can also save hundreds of dollars on each test performed. One draize animal test on a rabbit may cost $1,800, but the same in-vitro test would only cost $1,400. It’s incredible how much of that cost savings can be passed directly down to the consumer. This is exactly the kind of thing that will spark the higher brand loyalty that companies crave today.

There are so many ways that in-vitro testing can facilitate doing more rather than less. Consumers are always going to be on the look-out for that next big breakthrough, but they’re also interested in exactly how that breakthrough came to be. In-vitro delivers for both companies and consumers looking to do more with their limited resources — without help from our animal friends.

Canadian Senate to Vote on Banning Animal Testing

Keeping an eye on global trends is one of the best ways for a government to prepare for the future. In late 2016, Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen aimed to make a change in Canadian law with the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. Learn more about Canada’s relationship with animal testing and how it may be set to change soon.

Bill S-214

In 2015, Stewart-Olsen introduced a bill into Senate to make cosmetic animal testing a thing of the past. It was solely focused on cosmetic testing (as opposed to all animal testing) and received support from other members of the Senate as well as the public and the cosmetics industry. The law would ensure no Canadian manufacturer could use animals to test their cosmetics and that no store could sell products from other countries that allowed animal testing. It was correctly pointed out by Stewart-Olsen that most cosmetic ingredients have already been tested at length, and that most cosmetics companies have stopped testing their products on animals completely. However, it did still manage to face opposition, with some Senators raising concerns about what the bill would mean for human safety.

Be-Cruelty Free Campaign

Stewart-Olsen’s bill is just one measure of many that the Be Cruelty-Free Canada movement has launched. Led by Canada’s Humane Society and the Animal Alliance of Canada, they found a partner in Stewart-Olsen to spearhead the bill. They’re hoping that Canada will follow countries like India and Taiwan when it comes to animal rights, and have already instituted the Leaping Bunny symbol on products. This little picture indicates that the product was made without animal testing. The members of the movement are advocates to end all animal suffering, and they also facilitate volunteer opportunities and pet adoptions.  Many people in Canada aren’t even aware that their cosmetic products may still be tested on animals, and 88% shun the idea of animal suffering in the name of looking better.

The Global Impact

The Canadian cosmetic industry is not very large, and there are no public numbers about the use of animals to advance their products. It is thought the backlash from Canadian lobbyists or business owners will not be a major factor when it comes to opposition. The real value in this bill is the tangential influences it may have on other cosmetic companies. Anyone who does still test on animals won’t be able to keep making a profit in Canada, which may lead manufacturers to reconsider how they develop their products. For the innovators in the industry who constantly want to improve their line, companies can use non-animal testing like in-vitro to ensure their customers’ safety.

Further Considerations

Most Canadians (81%) support a full ban on animal testing for cosmetics, agreeing that a new lipstick or eyeshadow simply isn’t worth it. As the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology reviews the bill, hopefully, they’ll see that the legislation has nothing to do with limiting progress in cosmetics, only in limiting how many animals are affected because of it. If it doesn’t pass, it’s likely because animal welfare issues are a bit of a controversial area in the Senate. Some members are afraid that the language used could lead to far more extreme consequences than proposed. For example, another bill that failed in the Senate was denied because voters felt it would limit or outlaw everything from hunting to medical research. If there is a hiccup in getting this passed, it will likely be for similar reasons.

InVitro International is fully behind Bill S-214, and we believe that it can help push Canadian law into a new era. Our test kits and lab tests are proven to give cosmetic companies the safety information they need without subjecting animals to harm. We know that banning cosmetic animal testing doesn’t have to stunt progress or limit other industries and hobbies. The consultations that the Standing Committee has to perform before giving their recommendation should hopefully give the thumbs-up to Senators to vote in favor of this important bill.

How Involved Should US Federal Agencies Be in the Future of In Vitro Testing?

Conservatives and liberals alike are finding their way into the world of animal rights. With the Obama administration’s 2016 passage of the revised Toxic Substances Control Act and the current legislation on the table, the Humane Cosmetics Act, political momentum stands firmly on the side of animal rights. With money moving away from traditional animal testing methods, donors are looking for new ways to stay in the industry and stay in compliance with new laws.

In vitro testing has been vetted as a low cost, viable alternative to animal testing, and government interests on all sides are looking to use it as an in for continued funding. The race to fund the kingmakers is on, and it is one that animal rights activists should look into with a great deal of interest.

Invariably, when government interests get too involved in a scientific industry, that industry becomes bloated with less efficient research and development methods. The reason that animal rights has been able to move forward so drastically in the United States is because of the vetted success of alternative testing methods like in vitro testing. If budgets become bloated and ROI drops, there is no economic incentive for the cosmetics industry to continue along the same path. Legislation that is considered can easily be reversed – keep in mind that Obama had to revise the Toxic Substances Control Act. Nothing is to say that legislation cannot be revised in the opposite direction as well.

Moving alternative testing methods away from the private market is also moving power away from the dedicated activists that are truly protecting animals. If too much power is invested in politicians to protect animals, the issue will become one of many that move across their desks in any given session. This is guaranteed to produce less productivity in the animal-rights space, as it does with most of the scientific industries that rely too much on Washington.

InVitro International is in full support of moving forward on animal rights legislation. However, we are also incredibly wary of shifting too much of the power into the public sector. The incredible dedication of activists and research of private companies has provided the alternatives that the cosmetics industry is moving into today. There is no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

Legislation to Ban Cosmetic Testing on Animals is Officially on the Table

The United States may finally catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to cosmetic testing on animals. Building on the momentum of Obama signing the revised Toxic Substances Control Act in 2016, some members of Congress have reintroduced the Humane Cosmetics Act to the legislative floor. The Humane Cosmetics Act completely stops any animal testing on ingredients or finished products in the domestic cosmetics industry. It also completely bans cosmetics from other countries that have been tainted with animal testing.

The United States currently lags behind other Western countries on the issue of animal testing. Australia currently became one of the last major cosmetics exporters (excluding the United States) to put forward legislation to ban animal testing, joining New Zealand, Turkey, South Korea, Norway, India, Israel, Taiwan and Brazil. The entire European Union has banned all animal testing since 2004. However, the Humane Society still estimates that upwards of 200,000 animals may still be used to test product every year.

The fight to keep animals safe from the cruelty of cosmetics testing is far from over. However, the United States joining the right side of history is definitely a huge step into a better future. The Humane Society is currently encouraging all animal rights activists to place calls to their legislators in support of the Humane Cosmetics Act.

Experts within the cosmetics industry predict that the US moving away from animal testing will encourage cosmetics manufacturers to pursue alternatives that are actually faster, more reliable and cheaper than animal testing. Cosmetics companies within the United States will also become more competitive in the global cosmetics industry, as they will be adhering more closely to the global standard.

The testing kits created by InVitro International stand as one of the most thoroughly vetted alternatives to animal testing in the industry. We stand in support of the Humane Cosmetics Act. We hope that the United States and other major governments will continue to rally behind the idea that animals do not need to used to test cosmetic products, especially when there are better alternatives.