There are various practices we strongly oppose, including what we refer to as the animal testing loophole. We briefly touched on this issue in the ban of ISO-23662 article, but, unfortunately, most if not all organizations, including members of the Vegan World Alliance (VWA), continue to use this loophole.
The problem is simple to explain: many businesses buy ingredients from a third party that conducts animal testing on these ingredients on their own behalf; all vegan standards we are aware of, except our own, will certify these products as vegan. In the global economy, business tends to specialize and it is very likely that the end product is made with various ingredients or components that are not made by the business making the final product. These suppliers can conduct tests on their own, without being paid for, or requested by the business seeking certification for the final product.
This is happening much more than we initially thought. We became aware that at least one of the largest ingredients supplier in the world conducts various animal testing on their ingredients and sell them to businesses that will be using them in foods to be certified vegan through standards that do not take this into account.
One might point out that most ingredients were, at one time or another, tested on animals, and that is correct. That is why we have adopted the cut-off date of 2012 for our standard and certification program. There are a few reasons we settled on this date during the development of our draft standard for the VWA. One is that by this date many countries had adopted regulations to encourage the reduction of animal testing.
It might be easy to believe that cut-off dates attempt to change the past, but it could not be further from the truth as cut-off dates are crucial to changing the future because without them we create another loophole. For-profit corporations exist for the sole purpose of generating profit, we should never doubt the length at which they will go to achieve their purpose. By having no cut-off date a third-party business can easily conduct tests on animals, and only after the tests have been conducted being added as a supplier. The loophole created by not having a cut-off date can be used to obtain vegan certification, let alone lesser certification schemes like “cruelty-free”, on any ingredients tested on animals.
One of the problems is that while the wording of many regulations allows for the replacement of tests done on animals with tests not done on animals as long as they are scientifically proven equivalent, there is no financial incentive for corporations to develop those new tests. This is in part why we are where we are today.
We want to be clear to corporations that we want no part in this. People who self-identify as vegans and those who came before have for millennia lived without these ingredients. The message to corporations should be clear: If you absolutely need to develop a new blue colour, a new binding agent, a new processing aid, or new additives that make cookies shelf-stable for ten years—and you think animal testing is required—we are not interested in your cookies and these products will not be certified vegan.
Our commitment to our vision is unwavering. What is ethically wrong with killing, animal testing or any other form of animal exploitation is not where it occurs in the supply chain but that it occurs at all. Always make sure you support organizations and certifications that align with your beliefs.
This article was contributed by our member Vegan Society of Canada. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Vegan World Alliance.