“3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Assay” might sound like a dry, technical phrase spouted by someone in a lab coat. But for mice and guinea pigs in China, it could mean the difference between life and death and save them from being subjected to cruel and painful product tests.
You see, the 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Assay is in the process of becoming approved as China’s first government-approved non-animal testing method for cosmetics ingredients, thanks to the efforts and guidance of a team of expert scientists that the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS.org) established, with funding from PETA and our international affiliates.
This test – which is already widely used in the US and the EU – helps analyse the potential toxicity of chemicals when they come into contact with sunlight. It replaces an archaic test method in which mice or guinea pigs are locked into restraints as different concentrations of a test chemical are applied to patches of shaved skin on their backs. After their sensitive skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation for two or more hours, the frightened animals are then kept restrained for several days while experimenters examine their skin. Swelling and sores are common, and no painkillers are provided.
At the moment, Chinese law requires that companies that want to sell cosmetics products in China have to pay the Chinese government to test their products on animals. As a result, animals are suffering in Chinese laboratories every day in tests in which they are fed chemicals or have substances deliberately dripped into their eyes and rubbed onto their skin. PETA US was the first to expose the fact that major companies, including Avon, Mary Kay and Estée Lauder, are, outrageously, paying for tests on animals in China, despite claiming to have banned animal tests years ago. The introduction of this non-animal testing method, which is expected to be accepted by the end of this year, could be the beginning of the end for inhumane and unreliable tests in which animals are tortured.
We’ve already seen fantastic progress against vivisection in 2013, as some of the world’s major markets – the European Union, India and Israel – have outlawed tests on animals for cosmetics altogether. With your help, we’ll keep on working until no animal, anywhere, has to suffer for vanity.