At SC Johnson, we have given a lot of thought to ending animal testing. We are not there yet, but we are trying. Because our products are used by families globally, we see an important need for toxicological studies that ensure they can be used safely and with minimal impact on the environment. Also, SC Johnson must comply with the stringent legal and regulatory requirements of countries around the world that require, by law, testing for certain products. At the same time, we agree that animal testing should be Reduced; Refined to minimise suffering; and, ultimately, Replaced – which is Russell & Burch’s “three Rs” approach.
Given these beliefs, our first step is that where possible we use ingredients that have already been tested, so that we can avoid additional testing but still know the ingredients’ human health and environmental impact. We have amassed extensive databases of historic testing data, to minimise further tests wherever we can.
We have also been active in developing, validating and applying alternative testing methods, such as corrosivity assays and human tissue equivalent models, which have dramatically reduced the number of animals used in testing our products. We are also a contributing member of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, which is dedicated to the advancement of alternative test methods. We continue to look for other ways we can make further progress.
But this issue is bigger than a single company and what we choose to do, because in many cases our choices are affected by legal requirements. For example, mosquito repellents by law must undergo toxicological assessment (which may involve animal testing) in order to be sold in numerous geographies, including the United States and Europe.
While we would all like to avoid animal testing, mosquito repellents play a key part in protecting people from dangerous mosquito borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and West Nile virus. In the United States, these products also repel deer ticks, which can cause potentially deadly Lyme Disease. So it is important that these products continue to be produced and sold, even given the government requirement that they be tested first. And any company selling these products is subject to the same constraints.
In some cases testing also may be important to ensuring that products can be safely used by consumers or that the chemicals in products are not going to cause long-term effects on the environment. In fact, efforts like REACH in Europe, as well as the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act in the United States, are pushing for more testing, not less.
For example, some consumer advocacy groups are seeking more stringent testing of products for carcinogenic effects or endocrine disruption, either of which could require animal testing. So companies like SC Johnson are trying to find the right balance. We do believe strongly that products must be safe for consumers today and for the planet for generations to come; the goal is to ensure this with the absolute minimum of animal testing necessary.
We realise that some companies say they “don’t test on animals.” Frankly, we are skeptical, but even if the claim is true, it may mean simply that they are not doing anything new. New product innovations – which can for example offer reduced environmental impact – may require testing because of using new chemicals or using them in new ways. A company that is not innovating may not have this need, although it will still have to comply with new legal requirements that may entail animal testing.
Other companies that claim they do no animal testing may also simply be obscuring the facts. It doesn’t necessarily mean the ingredients they use have not been tested – in fact, it is likely that they have. The vast majority of chemicals used in products will have been tested for toxicity. But some companies skirt this issue because their raw materials were tested by the suppliers they purchase from, or from other suppliers that those suppliers use. So their claims are based solely on whether they themselves tested a particular product formulation...not whether there was testing in the product’s history.
At SC Johnson, we care about honesty and transparency in our claims. So, we will not make broad, sweeping claims that imply more than is true. Rather, where it makes sense we may label products with clear language that says we didn’t test that product on animals.
The bottom line is that we have to meet government, safety and environmental requirements for our products, but we are working toward ways to do so while continually minimising animal testing.
We know some people may choose not to buy SC Johnson products given their passion on this topic. But we hope you will give us a chance, as we continue to be one of the companies that is working hard to drive advancements in this area. Please look for our products whose labels say they are not tested on animals ... it may not be all that you want, but you can believe that it is true.