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Should Animals Be Used for Cosmetic and Cleaning Product Testing in the USA?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,630 times Debate No: 90133
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




Many arguments have arisen with the growth of the animal rights movement such as the difficulty of enforcing an abolition of animal testing. There are many animal rights acts that have been put into place and enforced that were controversial at the time they were created. An example would be the Humane Slaughter Act that prohibits the use of painful slaughtering methods on farm animals. The only requirements I could find for research facilities was the regulations for any indoor facility used to house animals of any species. These regulations, found in the Animal Welfare Regulations were
"(1) It must be capable of controlling the temperature within the building or structure within the limits set forth for that species of animal, of maintaining humidity levels of 30 to 70 percent and of rapidly eliminating odors from within the building; and
(2) It must be an enclosure created by the continuous connection of a roof, floor, and walls (a shed or barn set on top of the ground does not have a continuous connection between the walls and the ground unless a foundation and floor are provided); and
(3) It must have at least one door for entry and exit that can be opened and closed (any windows or openings which provide natural light must be covered with a transparent material such as glass or hard plastic)."
This describes the typical apartment, and does not give any requirements for the treatment of the animals contained within the facility. This is unacceptable. America is the land of the free, yet there are animals being held that will be used for testing and then killed. They aren"t free. Imagine if a human child was being put through this torture. That is illegal, yet the same behavior on animals isn"t? Most people have pets that they love very much, and the thought of this treatment happening to them horrifies us, yet we continue to use these products every day with no regard for all the animals hurt or killed to make that product.
Surely if the 28 countries that form the European Union can find other ways to make products safe without killing animals, we should be able to as well. There are easy and affordable ways to make cruelty-free products. Two of the most commonly used methods are testing on artificial tissue and the infamous "test tube method" that my 6th grade science class did. Another solution is to utilize ingredients from the list of thousands of established ingredients that are known to be safe for humans. All of these simple solutions should be taken into account when analyzing the difficulty for companies to switch to cruelty-free products.


I am happy to accept this debate challenge and relish the opportunity as it shall be my first on As background, I am a microbiologist from the UK with a special interest in research ethics.

The affirmative in this debate is "Animals Should Be Used for Cosmetic and Cleaning Product Testing in the USA". I am approaching this argument from the perspective of a researcher, although not in the industry of cosmetics.

My opponent stems their argument on an excerpt from Animal Welfare Regulations, by which I assume they are referring to the Animal Welfare Act 1996 ( Purveying this document one will note the frequent and pointed ruse of the word humane throughout, a detail which I feel is key in these kinds of arguments as it is a common misconception that animals are posthumously mistreated in research and is a point which my opponent failed to include in his opening argument. Section 2143 of this act is the section care, handling, treatment and transportation of animals in research facilities. I would paste the whole section however it is too long and would take up my character limit, but I implore you to read as it contains within it many stipulations about what is necessary for animals to be used in research.

Now, this act lays out the minimum requirements by law for the use of animals in research that must be adhered to. Many researchers however will be aware that animal research ethics extends far beyond this. Animal research ethics is a frequently discussed topic in research environments as, contrary to some beliefs, it is not something that we enjoy doing. As such it is something that is scrutinised very closely. For example, should I wish to use a mice for research, there is nothing in the above act that says I need do anymore than given the mouse shelter, food, water, veterinary care where necessary and not subject it to more processes than is necessary according to my experimental outline. However, was I to present my proposed experiment to a research ethics board suggesting I keep my mice by these minimum conditions it would most certainly be denied a license for use of said mice. There are many considerations that I have failed to account for on the part of the mice. Mice are highly social animals and to keep each mouse in isolation (unless it be key to the experiment) would be cruel to the well being of a mouse. So I would need to stipulate that several mice would be kept together in one containment apparatus. Similarly I would need to stipulate that these mice would not be crowded in any way shape or form, as that would be as cruel as keeping each mice in isolation. Ergo, each containment unit would have to have a minimum square footage per mouse contained within it. Mice are also incredibly shy animals and dislike feeling exposed. As such, containment units we keep mice in will often have tunnels in which they can hide (usually are coloured and translucent to us but to mice due to their limited visual capabilities are completely opaque, giving them the feeling of seclusion). My overall point here is that there are very high ethical standards within research facilities that must be adhered to in order to work on animals.

Which leads me on to the central thesis on animal research ethics, which you alluded to. This is commonly called the 3 R method. Reduce, Refine and Replace.

Reduce: In all cases of the use of animals in research one must use the minimum number of specimens required to sufficiently power your study (power in the statistical sense). Using more than the minimum would be deemed unethical.

Refine: The experimental design of each study must be refined whereby the minimum amount of operations/procedures/treatments are carried out on one animal to achieve the desired experimental outcome. Furthermore, no animal must undergo more than one experiment. To re-use a test animal would be unethical.

Replace: Where an adequate model exists that will achieve the desired observable outcomes from an experiment, this must be used in place of an animal model. Any ethical committee may challenge the proposers animal model with an alternate model and the proper must provide sufficient evidence as to why the alternate model is insufficient.

You alluded to replacement in your opening argument. Replacement is absolutely paramount to animal research ethics and thanks to tireless work of scientists across the globe. However, there are limitations on all of these most pointedly that there does not exist a model that has a complex immune response that accurately reflects how an animal or even a human would respond to a stimulus. This is most important in cosmetics as one of the key things many cosmetic companies would be looking for, an allergic reaction, a consequence of a complex immune system. Toxicity testing has place in models in some cases, but many models are unable to replicate the vast difference in a complete system of organs and a multi-faceted metabolism of an animal. In testing chemicals, I cannot use a tissue model to test the effects of inhalation of a chemical as a layer of tissue cannot inhale and cannot systemically react. We strive to use models in research, but as far along as we are now, we are still limited by the technologies and methods available to us.

Lastly, your argument that there are many thousands of chemicals deemed safe for use in humans, but bear in mind that many of these safe products had to be tested on animals first before they were tested in humans and furthermore deemed safe. I agree with you in your motive in this statement and I believe that all cosmetic companies should continue to safe chemicals. However, it is not simple math. Safe thing 1 + safe thing 2 = safe thing 3. This is a fallacy. The resultant combination of two relatively safe things does not inherently lead to another safe thing. Unfortunately, combinations of ingredients must also be tested for their safety.

To summarise, I believe animals should be used in the research of cosmetics and cleaning chemicals in the US (and elsewhere for that matter). It is not carried out with malice or intent to harm. It is carried out out of necessity and until such time that we have an adequate methods to abolish it entirely then my argument and position still stands.
Debate Round No. 1


To begin, I would like to make clear that I take a stand on this as a high-school aged female. I have pets at home and have personally gone with my local animal shelter to rescue some animals being held in these conditions that I have mentioned in my previous argument. The rabbits were kept with other dead rabbits right around them. Most were permanently blind, deaf, or physically disabled. I take my stance from that experience. That was one of the most upsetting things I have ever witnessed. This is why I take my stance this way.

First of all, I implore my opponent and anyone else wondering about the conditions in which these animals are kept to search "animal testing in cosmetics" and look at the images. My opponent seems to be under the impression that all tests run must be humane. This is something being ignored by many large companies, if it even exists at all. My opponent seems to believe that if an animal gets hurt, it's okay because the humans using the product won't suffer. I will not stand for this, as they hold the same value as humans. If you search what I earlier mentioned you will see the containment apparatuses that the animals are being kept in. These obviously do not adhere to the guidelines my opponent has stated.
This is a picture of the things that can happen when the testing is performed on these animals.
This is an example of the containment apparatuses that the animals are being kept in. If these count as humane, then we, as humans, have failed. I realize that there are places that humanely test animals, and the facility my opponent mentions probably does, but the problem is that by letting all companies do the testing, we are leaving this open for people to abuse the animals in the testing setting. Therefore, I make my stand clear once again on the reasons for my choice on this matter.


Your anecdote about your experience of poor animal welfare conditions is not a basis for an argument. The act I cited in the previous argument sets minimum standards for the treatment and welfare of animals. If you yourself have witnessed a facility that failed to meet these standards, then you yourself should have reported that facility to the appropriate authority so that that facility could be shut down, penalised and the animals given the appropriate care.

You make a statement that animals hold the same value as humans, however you implicitly make this statement fault by stating you yourself have pets. You own animals. It is illegal to own a human. Ergo they cannot possibly have equal value. If you yourself do not presently treat animals as if they were humans, then how can you make the argument that they should be. I would also like to point out that your argument appears to only extend to vertebrates. Which means you inherently hold the life of a rabbit above the life of an insect. Although both are animals.

The photos you cite have no source. The first seems to come from an Irish make up artists website, the original blog post in which the photo was used cannot be loaded, I assume because the blog post was removed or archived. I have in fact seen this exact image many times before, it is popularly touted as the stop animal testing image. A simple google image search of this image will show you how heavily recycled this image is without any single poster being able to give the actual origin of the image, the facility in which it was taken, what the animals were being subjected to or what year the photo was taken. Much of the same principle applies to your second photo.

While I accept your premise that there exist places that do not treat animals fairly or provide them with any degree of welfare or husbandry, there are protocols in place (which I have cited in my opening argument) to ensure that these places can be punished.

What I wish to clarify at this point is whether you seek a greater degree of scrutiny and a larger number of checks be in place for to ensure that animals are being treated fairly in research facilities? Or do you wish for an outright ban on animal testing all together? If the latter is the case then I refer your to the second half of my opening argument as to why that is not practical.

I look forward to your response.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to obliterate it entirely. I was merely using those photos as examples because searching things on Google is too difficult for some people. If my opponent refer to the second half of my opening argument, he would see that there are many easier, cheaper, and safer alternatives to animal testing. Therefore, your argument is unfounded. I would also like to make clear that, even though I technically "own" pets, there are like my family. We do not treat them like animals except in diet and bathroom habits. That argument is detrimental to the actual point my opponent is trying to make. This will be a short response, because my opponent didn't bring up any new issues that I haven't already covered.

I appreciate my opponent's feedback, as he said this is his first debate here, but I would like to also make clear that most of his points were refuted in my previous arguments. I implore the judges to consider my argument as a call for help and justice for these animals. Thank you.


My reply will too be a short one.

My opponent claims to have refuted my arguments but in fact has done nought but reiterate her opening statement and uses her position to garner pity rather than providing logic or evidence.

She states that she has clearly suggested the safer, cheaper and easier alternatives to animal testing. I stated however in my opening arguments the reasons why these alternatives are not adequate in many cases and although safer in the sense these methods don't use animals, they are often less safe as they cannot predict the side-effects and reactions that humans may exhibit when tested products are moved to human trials, ultimately causing more suffering to humans as the end result. I believe that either my opponent failed to read my opening argument in it's entirety or is just not interested in understanding the nuances of animal research ethics. Either way this debate has concluded and will soon be open to voting.

I implore the voters to read both sides very carefully and vote according to the most logical argument. Do not cast a vote in the name of pity. This topic is highly nuanced and is one frequently debated at far higher levels than this website. It is not a simple matter. We do not conduct animal research for shits and giggles. It is a grim necessity that no researcher takes joy in performing, but a necessity none the less.

Thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by firefury14620 2 years ago
Dude, it's even bad for medical research, so I'll argue that with you.
Posted by InvincibleBlaze 2 years ago
Uhh...can I surrender? I just signed up for and just thought this looked interesting. I wrote pretty much a whole essay on how animal testing was useful for research and had no other substitute. I just looked at the title and realized that he was talking specifically about cosmetics and cleaning products. I completely agree with him in regards to cosmetics.

If you'd like to expand the topic to include medical research, I would love to debate, but right now I have nothing.
Posted by InvincibleBlaze 2 years ago
Uhh...can I surrender? I just signed up for and just thought this looked interesting. I wrote pretty much a whole essay on how animal testing was useful for research and had no other substitute. I just looked at the title and realized that he was talking specifically about cosmetics and cleaning products. I completely agree with him in regards to cosmetics.

If you'd like to expand the topic to include medical research, I would love to debate, but right now I have nothing.
Posted by firefury14620 2 years ago
Thank you very much crosekearney. I originally wrote this as a persuasive letter to the US Department of Agriculture. I'm saving some of my facts for later use. The comparison of animals to children was mostly because I have a rabbit and he is like my child. That was a weak analogy now that you mention it, and I will be sure to change it before I mail the letter. Again, thank you for your wonderful feedback.
Posted by crosekearney 2 years ago
This argument commits the informal fallacy of "Appeal to Pity" (Argumentum ad Misericordiam). Appeal to pity occurs when an arguer attempts to support a conclusion by merely evoking pity from the reader or listener. If a writer succeeds in evoking pity from the audience, the audience is more likely to accept his/her conclusion. In this case, the writer evokes the pity of her audience by discussing our personal love for our pets and how we consider them children. The writer I believe uses this because it"s very easy to turn a blind eye to something that doesn't affect us directly, such as animal testing, but to evoke more emotion and possible acceptance from the audience, she strikes something we hold close to our hearts which are our pets. When the writer says "imagine torturing a child?" she is committing the fallacy of weak analogy. Weak analogy is an inductive argument and is committed when the analogy is not strong enough to support the conclusion that is drawn. In this case the writer is comparing torturing an animal to a child. Even though torturing an animal is awful, its even more awful to torture a child, thus making the analogy weak.
I found this argument to be a strong inductive argument. A strong inductive argument is an inductive argument in which it is improbable that the conclusion be false given that the premises are true. The writers premises seem to be of truth, making it harder for the conclusion to be false. This argument also was considered cogent because its an inductive argument, strong and has all true premises. The writers conclusion follows from her premises, and makes the argument very clear and the conclusion easy to accept.
Posted by UNOWN301 2 years ago
This is a debate I'm very interested in following. I would accept except for the fact that I agree with Con, we should not be using animals for testing products.
Posted by Hayd 2 years ago
This looks like a good debate
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by imsmarterthanyou98 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Voting. Arguments would go to Pro, due to greater nuance, and addressing each of Cons points in a well- reasoned manner, especially by stating there are no alternatives to animal testing, a point never successfully countered by Con. Arguments would further go to Con since his case, did provide evidence for significant ethical standards used in animal testing, and rebutted Pros claims that they are non-existent, or not humane. Sources would be tied as they were not many in this debate. Conduct would also be tied, since both side were well conducted. Grammar and spelling would also go to Pro since, I found his case to be more eloquent, and well explained.