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Should Australia stop the testing and importing of cosmetic products that harm animals?

Picture this. You are being forced into a filthy and cold cage to undergo a series of tests that will likely cause you pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm. You are being examined on in a way that is likely to burn your skin and damage your hair. The trails you are exposed to are likely to torture and in the end kill you. This is what is legally allowed to occur within the cosmetics industry, to the same animals that both you and I go home to every single day. With the same permanent damages that we all fear of experiencing.

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And we continually let corrupt members of our society carry out these experiments because they claim that the results are accurate and that its morally okay because ‘animals are just like us.’

So let me ask you this, if animals are so like us that we can substitute them for testing instead of having humans do so, then surely those animals have the very attributes that mean they deserve to be valued enough to be protected from harm, in particular the attributes that allow them to suffer physically and psychologically just as we would. This presents that in fact, the entire industry that tests on animal’s rests on a contradictory ideal that views animals as lab equipment.

It is the makeup, the scented shampoo, the silky smooth moisturisers, it is the cosmetic products on every shelf in the chemist, literally any products that any one of us would think to put on our body. The idea behind trialling on animals is that it prevents the irritation, burning or scarring of human beings. And as a cosmetic company, that proposal is a very respectful wish, as it is undoubtedly fair to want to protect the individuals that choose to purchase your products.

But this fear of harm does not translate when it is seen to be okay to inflict these terrible consequences on animals, especially ones that have little way of expressing that they may actually desire not to have your heavily fragranced and chemical filled products on their bodies.

This leads to consent. I think we’ve all heard about the importance of giving consent. And whether you’ve done Psychology or not, it is a known rule that experimenters must gain ‘informed consent’ from participants in order to be involved in any assessments. This is often overlooked because animals cannot approve the said testing, which brings me to the exact reason as to why it is immoral to perform procedures and review goods on innocent and unconsenting animals.

Whether it be adorable soft bunnies or the young puppies just like your own, these animals cannot say whether they wish to be experimented on and therefore, does it not seem unethical for humans to assume that it is okay to do so? The only difference is that these animals cannot directly communicate with humans and that’s apparently a free pass for companies within the industry to test whatever products they wish on whatever animal they wish to do so on. And these animals, especially rats, mice, fish and birds that cannot appropriately express their feelings towards experiments, are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act despite the fact they make up 95% of animals that are tested on.

We don’t test on babies who have not learnt to speak yet or on individuals that have communicative impairments, so we should not allow the testing of animals to take place, meaning any products made in Australia or any imported products that test on animals should be forbidden from entering our country.

I know we can all agree emotionally that no animal should be subjected to such things but this is more than an ethics discussion, Australia needs to think about the social and economic impacts these tests are having, especially because historically, Australia did not have a forceful and institutionalized code of ethics on how animals should be treated.
The only laws that constrained animal use within our society were the anti-cruelty laws that forbid sadistic, deviant, deliberate and unnecessary infliction of pain on animals. But increasingly over the last few years, an overwhelming majority of Australians, 85% according to the 2013 Nexus Research Poll, oppose to animal testing when it comes to cosmetic products, not just the general harming of them. Do these figures not display the publics aversion and discontent for the disgusting experimentation that takes place?

Obviously the Australian government is blatantly ignoring public morale due to old legislations that no longer reflect the views and values of our current population. Especially as it clearly does not mirror those of today’s society who do not have the same wish to partake in the infecting or harming of helpless animals. Even the European Union, Israel and India all have expelled this contradictory extermination by prohibiting the sale of any cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients that trial on animals.

Economically, in America, 12 billion dollars of taxpayer money is spent on animal experimentation. That is 12 billion dollars that could be spend on alternative testing such as ones that use human cells and tissues (vitro method), advanced computer-modelling techniques and studies with human volunteers. These and other non-animal methods usually take less time and money to complete and therefore would be more advantageous to cosmetic companies.

So does the world need another eyeliner so badly that it should come at the expense of animals’ lives? Is Australia that desperate for a few cosmetics products to be sold that millions of dollars need to be spent just for animal’s well-beings to be jeopardised?

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