I often debate with myself whether displaying and discussing the antics of what are often the tiny minority* lunatic fringe of the discussion over the use of animals in research is a help or a hindrance. I am not going to suggest that I have any good answers but I have been helped in my thinking by a comment from Dr. Free-Ride about being unaware of the ARA antics and the subsequent impact on researchers until informed by the latter about their experiences. So for now, I have my meter slid a little bit over to the side of shining light on what the ARA wackaloons are up to.
The Americans for Medical Progress group alerted me to the following slideshow which is apparently designed to assist ARA types target their message at teen girls. Note the multiple cautions on how to properly spin their message- unvarnished truth is apparently optional. I present this to my scientist readers as yet more education on what is being done on the ARA side to present their distortions and lies to a young audience.
Now with respect to this particular ARA distortion / lie campaign, I think that a discussion of this notion by a chemist and ethicist-of-science is in order.
How to read the "cruelty free" label.
A label on your shampoo or handsoap that says "no animal testing" does not mean that the substances in the bottle were not tested on animals. They were. They were required by law to be so tested. What the label indicates is that someone else did the testing.
While the company selling the product didn't test the substances on animals in their own facilities, there's a good chance that they paid another company to do the animal testing. The other possibility is that the substances were tested on animals long ago, by another company.
Exactly. Now, I have to admit that I am quite happy with the array of soaps and shampoos and whatnot that have been available for at least 20 or 30 years (essentially unchanged in efficacy as far as I can tell). I am consequently quite sympathetic to the notion that we can put a stop to all additional generation of me-too product in this category. And therefore, happily, we could potentially cease animal toxicity testing for such products. Nevertheless I am quite happy that such products were once evaluated for toxicity in animal models. I am happy to enjoy the protections from dangerous consumer products that are afforded by official regulatory agencies as are most people.
I see no reason to try to cover up this reality by pretending that just because we come up with slightly-differently-perfumed shampoos which use all the same active ingredients this means they were produced and developed without animals. That would be a total lie.
*really. One-guy-with-a-website is a not uncommon scenario which has hugely disproportional PR impact.