It’s time government, businesses and investment managers clubbed together to ban animal testing once and for all, writes Michelle Thew of Cruelty Free International.
In March 2011, then-Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone MP promised the UK a ban on animal tested household products: “The prohibition will apply to both finished household products and their ingredients.”
This ban would save the lives of countless animals and would include not only the finished item itself, but also the ingredients that go into making up the cleaning product.
But after four years of consideration and promises, the government has still not published its final plans for the ban.
The development and manufacture of everyday household products on sale in the UK have long featured animal tests. Rabbits, hamsters, rats and mice have traditionally been injected, gassed, force-fed and killed to test the ingredients that go into products that we use every day in our homes and offices such as washing up liquid, air fresheners and dishwasher tablets.
Despite the long suffering of animals for these products – and the presence of alternative testing methods – the government has yet to uphold its commitment. On November 28, 2011, Featherstone once more stated, “We are aiming to implement the delivery arrangements from January 1, 2012.”
Yet, January 2012 has long since passed and Cruelty Free International is still awaiting the promise that would save the lives of countless animals suffering senselessly for these tests.
Unprepared to simply wait for the government to make good on its pledge, Cruelty Free International independently runs the Leaping Bunny certification for cruelty-free household cleaning products so consumers can purchase cleaning materials which are free from animal testing.
Leaping Bunny certified brands have all committed to ensuring that no animal testing is conducted or commissioned for finished products or ingredients after a fixed cut-off date. The Leaping Bunny is different to other ‘cruelty-free lists’ as companies are asked to prove their no-animal-testing claims, and an independent auditor is appointed to check that this proof is watertight.
Those to have received the certification include major high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Superdrug and the Co-operative, and respected brands such as Method, Astonish and Ecover.
Alongside those that manufacture cleaning products, a broader range of companies wish to ensure that they have no involvement with animal testing throughout their business practices. But it can be challenging for companies to identify and remove animal testing from their supply chains.
A growing movement of firms and investors are, however, increasingly recognising that animal testing is part of a broader corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda. Cruelty Free International advises companies who wish to be cruelty-free and works with investment managers and financial institutions to ensure that investments are free from animal testing.
Often this is simple as asking the right question of a company; sometimes it involves helping a bank or financial manager draft their criteria for investment. Investors are increasingly asking questions about whether their money is supporting animal experiments.
It’s time for everyone – government, businesses and investment managers alike – to take steps to finally consign animal testing to the history books.
Michelle Thew is the chief executive of Cruelty Free International.
Photo: www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk via Flickr