Animal Testing

For centuries, animals have been treated as nothing but property, until today. Animals have domesticated themselves right into our hearts and homes. However, I bet if you took a shower today, you would never know that the products you used were tested first for safety by animals. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “hundreds of thousands of mice, rats, and rabbits undergo testing each year to determine the safety of products like lipstick, shampoo, and mascara.”

An article by Kari Paul, “How Fake Skin Will End Animal Testing,” says cosmetics have routinely been tested by rubbing the product onto shaved skin of animal subjects, which were likely killed shortly after the test. U.S. law does not require animal testing for cosmetics, but it does not prohibit it either.

The one thing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics (FDC) Act does state is that products must be safe before they go on the market. Ironically, this law was passed in the early 40’s, due to the tragedies that occurred after some products that tested well on animals caused many to go blind, or even caused death in humans. Almost everyone is familiar with the Thalidomide disaster which was extensively tested on rabbits, and released as safe, only to cause multiple and severe deformities and missing limbs. The reason for these deaths and mutations, and the surrounding controversy, is simply because the animals being tested on do not react the same way human beings would, according to Health Research Funding.

The Animal Welfare Act was implemented in the late 60’s to protect certain animals from cruel treatment during testing, however, that act does not cover the 90% of animals actually tested on, including rats, guinea pigs, and mice.

One of the biggest reasons for the support of animal testing is that the treatments developed such as penicillin and insulin have helped saved many lives. Yet, one of the biggest problems with animal testing is that it has gone on for years, which some believe, is way too long. On the bright side, the number is growing in the amount of companies steering clear of animal testing for cosmetics, and embracing alternative methods. The cruelty-free certification program, Leaping Bunny, has certified over 600 companies across the world for being animal-free in their product testing according to the Humane Society.

One of the alternative methods to animal testing has just recently been developed in the form of “3D bioprinting Episkin” according to Kari Paul. The Episkin is comprised of tissue donated by plastic surgery patients and grown into an artificial skin using a “collagen matrix” says Paul. The Episkin is a model of reconstructed skin used to test products on since it is nearly identical to actual skin.

L’Oreal is one of the biggest companies testing products on Episkin and no longer using animal subjects. Less than two years ago, L’Oreal announced it would “completely eliminate the testing of its products on animals.” That same year, the European Union announced a complete ban on all animal testing for products sold in the EU according to the article. America is finally catching up with the EU by announcing the Humane Cosmetics Act- a bill recently introduced to the House of Representatives. The bill is supported by countless celebrities and over 140 cosmetic companies. It is designed to eliminate animal testing of products, and the sale of animal-tested products in the United States.

Black Bears in Florida

Lately, the Florida Black Bear has been rather frequent in the news and it is time to get some facts straight about the animal. For over twenty years the black bear hunt has been made illegal to allow for the endangered animal to rejuvenate. In the past few years, however, more and more complaints have been coming in about black bear nuisances in residential neighborhoods. In 2005, the number of complaints was just under 2,000, and just last year that number rose to over 6,000 according to the Tampa Bay Times. This increase is due in large part because the population growth of humans, causing the growth of more developments which, in turn, takes away from the bears’ habitat.

The Black bear is a smart bear, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife; so smart in fact, they are lazy by choice. Black bears eat over 5,000 calories of food a day, which means most of their day is spent hunting and foraging in the woods. A black bear can smell food over a mile away, and because they quickly learned to associate people with food, they have become more attracted to the garbage we throw out. This makes the bear lazy because while they could choose to forage the woods for fruits and berries all day, they would rather intake their 5,000-calorie meals in one sitting. Garbage has become the biggest bear attractant in the state of Florida and it is the main reason bear encounters with humans have become more “aggressive.” In the past ten years there has only been 4 attacks on humans in Florida, and in each of those attacks someone had left trashcans out unsecured which attracted the bears’ attention.

Bears are predominately non-aggressive, and in most encounters with humans the bears was either defending themselves, their cubs, or their food source. The Florida Fish and Wildlife have a few suggestions for people if they want to be “bear smart” and the list includes: building a shed around your garbage cans, putting up an electric fence around livestock or beeyards, and never feeding the wild bear. The most helpful thing you can do is put your trashcans out the morning of pickup instead of the night before. If you do come in contact with a bear, it is best not to run because that will trigger the bears’ instinct to chase, instead, you should make sure the bear has a clear exit, and then scare it by yelling in an assertive voice, honking your horn, or banging pots and pans according to the FF&W. It is also a common myth to play dead, because after all, bears eat dead animals.

While it may have been the law in Florida that it is illegal to shoot a black bear, unless to protect human life, the new controversy regarding hunting has some people in a frenzy. The bear hunt is said to control the bear population; yet, there is no proof that it will do just that. The hunt is scheduled for a week in October where anywhere from 100 to 5,000 people may show up to participate. A Tampa Bay Times contributor says there is no way to control the bear population with this hunt unless it is opened up to subdivisions “where the bear problem is.” There is also no way of knowing how many bears will be killed, and if that will affect the number of bears running from the woods and into more subdivisions.