Why we need the Lush Prize
Much has changed but animal testing still persists
Guest blog: Craig Redmond of the Lush Prize on why the awards are vital
A few years ago the owners of Lush became frustrated that, despite all the progress that had been made over the past twenty years, animal testing was still being carried out.
The public are far more aware of the unreliability of animal experiments and the cruelty the animals endure. Non-animal testing methods have progressed and are being used more often and many companies recognise the business, and scientific, sense of not using animals in testing products.
In the European Union, India and Israel, animal testing of cosmetics has been banned and similar action is being promoted elsewhere. Yet there is still much to be done. There are five main reasons for this:
- Global markets mean testing banned in one country may be required in other regions of the world (China, for example, requires cosmetics to be animal tested)
- Environmental regulations requiring the testing of older ingredients have created new pressures (animal tests under EU chemical regulations REACH more than doubled between 2011 and 2014)
- While most people now agree that non-animal safety testing is preferable from both an animal welfare and scientific perspective, alternative non-animal tests are not emerging fast enough to replace existing animal-based methods
- Where alternative non-animal tests are emerging, the process of getting regulatory acceptance of the tests is always cumbersome and very slow
- Even where alternative non-animal tests are proven to be effective they may not be used if they are not mandatory or if toxicologists are unaware of them
Lush teamed up with Ethical Consumer and launched the Lush Prize in 2012. The Lush Prize is the largest annual fund – £250,000 (300,000€ / US$400,000) aimed at supporting the most progressive work in ending animal tests, particularly for toxicology (chemical testing). It rewards a series of joined-up initiatives to progress the work that is taking place around the world.
In just two years the Prize has given half a million pounds (600,000€ / US$800,000) to scientists, companies and campaigners from New Zealand to the USA, from Russia to Canada. The list of winners and those shortlisted represent 19 countries, showing how truly global the Lush Prize is: Brazil, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Pakistan and many more.
The five categories of the Lush Prize have been designed to provide resources to projects addressing the problem in different ways:
The Science Prize and Young Researcher Prize are designed to advance research into alternative non-animal tests.
The Training Prize is designed to resource projects training scientists or regulators in non-animal methods.
The Public Awareness and Lobbying Prizes are designed to keep up the pressure to make sure regulation is appropriate and updated to reflect advances in 21st-Century Toxicology.
There is also the Black Box Prize, which will provide the full £250,000 Lush Prize fund for a key breakthrough in human toxicity pathways research.
The Lush Prize is far more than just about financially supporting a few organisations and individuals, important though that is. The Lush Prize Team also:
- Carries out unique research into specific areas of interest – for example, in 2014 it produced a report looking at levels of animal testing around the world, highlighting how many countries have no regulation and produce no data on animal use.
- Produces research papers on each prize area, looking at current and historical initiatives in those fields and identifying key organisations and scientists making a difference.
- Attends scientific conferences and presents evidence about why science needs to progress without outdated, cruel and unreliable use of animals. We promote the 1R of replacement, not the other 3Rs (the others being refinement and reduction).
There are four key messages at the Lush Prize:
1. Animal testing is both inhumane and unscientific
92% of novel medicines that pass animal tests fail to reach the market, mainly because of unpredicted side-effects or because they are ineffective in humans.
2. Toxicity testing should be based on reliable, truly non-animal, methods
The US National Research Council encourages a move away from animal tests to “make toxicity testing quicker, less expensive, and more directly relevant to human exposures”.
3. Campaign and lobbying initiatives should push for 1R rather than 3Rs
The Lush Prize works for the 1R of replacement, not the other 2Rs of refinement and reduction.
4. The Lush Prize works to end animal testing
The annual Prize aims to speed the introduction of non-animal testing, particularly in toxicity testing for consumer products and ingredients.
How you can support the Lush Prize
If you know of an organisation, team, scientist or individual who you think should win one of the Lush Prize categories then nominate them! The closing date for nominations is Friday 25th July 2014.
If you use social media, why not tell your contacts about the Prize and how they can make a nomination? Don’t forget to link to our Twitter @Lush_Prize or Facebook ‘Lush Prize Fund’ or website www.lushprize.org.