Unlike Other Bans, This Ban By The Govt. Is More Than Welcome And A Bit Long Time Coming

After a series of bans, the Center is back with another one. Only this time, the ban makes sense and was definitely necessary. We are talking about the infamous Draize test – exploiting rabbits since 1940.

Menaka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, following constant representations made by the Humane Society International (HSI), People for Animals and other animal rights organisations. The Ministry then ruled out a mandate to completely end the use of Draize test as a method to test chemicals. This ruling came into effect in the first week of November 2016.

What is the Draize Test?

This is one of the many tests that is conducted to ensure that the chemicals in a product, mainly cosmetics, does not harm the skin or cause any form of irritation in humans. And going by the general human tendency, trying something ‘harmful’ to oneself was definitely not an option. So, man turned to the most gentle and vulnerable animal he could find – rabbits.

With little scientific reasoning, the rabbit was chosen for the Draize test. The animal is held by full-body restraints and the chemical is dripped in their eye or spread on a shaved part of their skin. The purpose of the restraint is to prevent the animal from pawing at their eyes for relief, thus plausibly affecting test results.

Draize Test being done on a rabbit
Draize Test being done on a rabbit

Apart from being extremely nasty, such tests often result in reddening, swelling or even blind the animal. They also cause everything from ulcers, skin cracking and even bleeding. The animal is left in pain for almost two weeks after which it is either killed or ‘reused’ for another lab experiment.

Consequences of a Driaze Test
Consequences of a Driaze Test

How valid are these tests?

For a test that has been in use for almost seventy-five years now, it is surprising to know that it produces the most inconsistent results. Not only this, these tests have also produced results that are in complete contradiction to that found when used by humans.

Such contradiction is found because of a very simple reason – the structure of the human eye is not only different, but there is also a significant difference in the thickness of the cornea when compared to rabbits. Adding to it is the fact that the cellular makeup of the skin also differs from one species to another.

What’s next?

Alternatives. They do exist.

Considering the inconsistency of the Draize test, and the harm it causes to the animal life, alternatives have been developed over the years. The most effective methods have been the recreation of human skin cells in laboratories. Not only does it ensure accuracy, but also helps in justifying the tagline, ‘No animals were hurt in the making of this product’.

According to the mandate released, it has also been made compulsory for companies to follow the methods and standards set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD promotes cruelty-free test methods and has been constantly working on developing alternatives to the Draize test.

The ban on the Draize test comes in addition to the cosmetic testing ban of 2014. Everything has been corrected and set right in the papers, but what is important is its practical implementation. The alternative methods need to be extensively promoted. Along with this, the government should also ensure that companies brand themselves by becoming certified Leaping Bunny members, or associate themselves with similar organisations that promote high-quality products without it being tested on animals.

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