Why we need a Prize
There’s no doubt that over the past twenty years huge changes have happened in relation to animal testing.
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
The Lush Prize – what’s it all about?
The five factors listed above are all challenging but by helping campaigners, regulators and scientists work together we can help fast forward the day when animal testing will be a thing of the past.
The owners of Lush became frustrated at the entrenched nature of animal testing and felt it was taking too long for it to stop. So they came up with an idea: a £250,000 pot of money every year to fund a series of joined-up initiatives to progress the work that is taking place around the world, working to end the use of animals in experiments.
This large annual fund is aimed to support the most progressive work in the field and ensure it continues and has most impact.
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.
As well as these categories, if there is a major breakthrough in 21st Century Toxicology – the area which holds out most hope for a ‘Eureka’ moment leading to the replacement of animal tests – a Black Box Prize of up to the entire annual fund of £250,000 will be awarded to the individual or team responsible. This was first awarded in 2015.
Below, Lush founder Mark Constantine says why he set up the Prize.
There are four key messages at the Lush Prize:
1. Animal testing is both inhumane and unscientific
An estimated 115 million animals are used in experiments worldwide each year, many suffering high levels of pain. Toxicity (chemical) tests of pharmaceuticals in rodents predict human toxicity only 43% of the time. 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 21st Century Toxicology 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
Many tests described as ‘alternatives’ to animal testing actually exploit animals, such as: use of fish and invertebrates; killing of animals for their cells and tissues; animal serums. 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. It does this by providing a £250,000 (350,000€) annual fund to reward effective projects and individuals worldwide working in five areas of science and campaigning.
The Lush Prize intends to focus pressure on toxicity testing for consumer products and ingredients in a way which complements the many projects already addressing the use of animals in medical testing. For some of the other prizes and projects around alternative tests see www.alttox.org
Many current regulations and prizes are directed towards the broader idea of the 3Rs: reduction, refinement, and replacement of the use of animals in experiments. The Lush Prize, as a project driven by animal ethics, seeks only to support projects working on the complete replacement of animal tests.
The Prize is also choosing to concentrate resources on ’21st-Century Toxicology’ as a specific area of non-animal testing research which holds out the most hope for an animal-test free future.