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Unethical Practice of Animal Testing on Cosmetics at Procter & Gamble

Question:

 Discuss about the Unethical Practice of Animal Testing on Cosmetics at Procter & Gamble.

Answer:

Introduction

An animal test, animal experiment or animal research are unethical procedures that are conducted on live animals, wherein the animals are forced to undergo processes that cause them pain, distress, suffering, or lasting harm (Murnaghan, 2016). Animal testing is used for various products such as cosmetics, food additives, household products, supplements, medications pesticides, and industrial chemicals at some point in their production process.

Animal testing is currently an industry worth billions of dollar, covering government bodies, universities, and pharmaceutical and chemical industries. This is supported by a significant secondary and tertiary industry that provides animal breeding facilities, cage manufacture and food supply (Animals Australia, 2016). In Australia around 6.99 million animals were used in research and teaching in 2014, which is an upward trend observed over the past eleven years (2004 - 2014) of available statistics (Humane Research Australia, 2014). A lot of these animals are subjected to varying degrees of pain and stress during the process of experimentation or due to the environment in which they are kept.

Impact of Animal Testing on Stakeholders of Procter & Gamble

The marketing and branding of Procter & Gamble have a major impact on not just on its end consumers but on the overall society. In addition to consumers and shareholders, there is a wide range of public, called the stakeholders who are directly affected by the organisational decision-making (Gotsi & Wilson, 2005). A brand which is ethical amplifies the reputation of the organisation, whereas, an unethical behaviour such as animal testing by Procter & Gamble will face severe controversies and certainly damage and destroy the total intangible asset of the organisation.

Animal welfare activist groups are also stakeholders in regulatory and legislative processes to every organisation that is directly or indirectly related to animals. These internationally aligned activists such as PETA create awareness, lobby their demands that promote animal welfare to politicians and shape public opinion. They play an important role in the business functioning, acting as whistle-blowers when legislative standards of animal welfare are not implemented correctly, at times even going to the court of law in the case of gross discrepancies.

The unethical branding practice of animal testing conducted by Procter & Gamble plays a key role in negatively affecting consumer behaviour as well stakeholder value. This shows that ethical branding has significant role controlling the product’s reception in business markets and is a significant variable that increases popularity and overall revenues.

Main Issues Involved in Animal Testing

The main issue with animal testing and the use of animals for research and teaching is unethical, immoral and inherently wrong. I believe that it is a vulgar display of cruelty when companies like Procter & Gamble expose animals to chemicals that may cause abnormalities, painful skin and eye irritation/inflammation, cancer and even death. It is obvious to me, from viewing graphic images online that the pain caused on animals due to product testing is excruciating, however, they do not receive any pain relief and left to wither in pain.

In the UK, 62% of licenses certified by the Government permitted animals to be subjected to moderate or extreme suffering in 2012. More than 70% of testing were done without furnishing the poor creatures with an anaesthetic. A few trials even require the animals to die as a major aspect of the test. For instance, administrative tests for Botox and vaccines are varieties of the savage Lethal Dose 50 test in which half of the animals die or are left almost dead. (Cruelty Free International, 2016).

Business organisations with ethical practices develop good brand reputations and attract better consumers. They are thought to provide more value, which enables them to charge a premium for their products and services (Eccles, et al., 2007). Their consumers are loyal because it is believed that such companies will deliver sustainable earnings and long-term growth. In modern day economies where 70% to 80% of the product value comes from intangible assets such as brand equity, goodwill, and intellectual capital, a large-scale organisation like Procter & Gamble is especially vulnerable to damages to their reputation due to unethical animal testing.

Legislation Regarding Animal Testing

The first legislation for animal protection, which required the licensing of scientists was introduced in Australia in 1883. At present, there are state-wise laws which regulate animal usage in product testing, teaching and research, but the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, provides a framework of regulatory principles through the Animal Research Regulation, the Animal Research Act, and other related legislation (Animal Ethics Infolink, 2016). Although consumer products are not tested on animals in Australia due to these strict legislations, it does not stop a big company like Procter & Gamble from inflicting torturing animals in the name of product testing, in other countries before sending their products to Australia (Animals Australia Unleashed, 2016).

Thus, in spite of strict regulations against animal-testing, the greater issue is not being dealt with since we are indirectly supporting these companies by purchasing their products. In this light, I would recommend the complete ban of animal-tested products from being imported into Australia. This will ensure that companies such as Procter & Gamble realise the negative impact of their unethical practices and resort to alternate animal-free methods for product testing.

Future of Animal Testing

The future will see the advancement of more productive, moral, and compelling method for analysing the impacts of chemicals on human wellbeing and the environment (Sullivan, et al., 2014). Animal welfare principles will likewise rise constantly, along the lines of which a sustainable future will be promoted through consumer activism. This will be possible, since it is a reality for companies like The Body Shop who aggressively propagate against animal testing, with none of their products ever being tested on animals (Bottini & Hartung, 2009).

Furthermore, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, various products like cosmetics, and personal care items, will be banned from stores in Australia from July 2017, which contain chemicals that have been animals-tested (Smethurst, 2016). This effective reform will phase out animal-tested products from the local Australian marketplace.

Furthermore, a ‘Human on a Chip’ program innovation is being created that will move the analyses from living animals by imitating cells of human organs and tissues, presenting them to chemicals and utilising electrical signs to gauge the reaction (Torres, 2016).

Thus, I strongly feel that the future should hold a reduction in animals usage in experiments, a refinement so that the suffering of animals are reduced, and replacement of animal testing through alternative techniques such as cell cultures, use of computer models, and epidemiological studies.

Concluding Remarks

Animal testing is a heinous crime that is still being practiced by renowned companies such as Procter & Gamble, who test their products on animals in different countries before selling their products in Australia due to domestic legislation. In my opinion, these tests are direct cruelty towards animals, who have to bear the burden of product testing simply because they do not have a voice of their own. I feel that there should be immediate changes in government policies that allow the inflow of animal-tested products into the nation and severe action must be taken against such companies.

I believe that such changes will have multiple benefits  (Thew, 2014). Firstly, in the context of animal protection, it will benefit more animals by saving them from suffering. Secondly, for research and development activities, the benefit will be innovative and emerging technologies that replace animal testing. Thirdly, for businesses organisations, converting to animal-free testing methods, will remove the threat to their sustainability. Moving away from traditional animal testing procedures will ensure that Procter & Gamble maintain ethical standards while preserving economic viability.

References

Animal Ethics Infolink, 2016. Legislation. [Online]
Available at: http://www.animalethics.org.au/legislation
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Animals Australia Unleashed, 2016. Animal Testing. [Online]
Available at: http://www.unleashed.org.au/change_the_world/animal_testing/
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Animals Australia, 2016. Animal experimentation. [Online]
Available at: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/animal_experimentation.php
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Bottini, A. & Hartung, T., 2009. Food for thought... on the economics of animal testing. Altex, 26(1), pp. 3-16.

Cruelty Free International, 2016. What is animal testing?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/what-animal-testing
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Eccles, R. G., Newquist, S. C. & Schatz, R., 2007. Reputation and Its Risks. [Online]
Available at: https://hbr.org/2007/02/reputation-and-its-risks
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Gotsi, M. & Wilson, A., 2005. Ethical branding and corporate reputation. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 6(1), pp. 341-350.

Humane Research Australia, 2014. Statistics of Animal Use in Research and Teaching in Australia. [Online]
Available at: http://www.humaneresearch.org.au/statistics/
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Murnaghan, I., 2016. What is Animal Testing?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.aboutanimaltesting.co.uk/what-animal-testing.html
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Smethurst, A., 2016. Cosmetics tested on animals to be banned in Australia. [Online]
Available at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/cosmetics-tested-on-animals-to-be-banned-in-australia/news-story/a6362ab50a6146af5c83e60c8e40d93e
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Sullivan, K., Manuppello, J. & Willett, C., 2014. Building on a solid foundation: SAR and QSAR as a fundamental strategy to reduce animal testing. SAR and QSAR in Environmental Research, 25(5), pp. 357-365.

Thew, M., 2014. How Bans on Animal Testing Open Up New Markets and Change the World for the Better. [Online]
Available at: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/how-bans-on-animal-testing-open-up-new-markets-and-change-the-world-for-the-better/
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

Torres, P., 2016. Technology offers hope for end of animal testing. [Online]
Available at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20160801/NEWS02/160809987
[Accessed 17 August 2016].

 

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