A CAMPAIGN against a test in which mice and rats were placed in sealed containers and forced to swim has won a £50,000 prize from Dorset’s Lush.
The cosmetics company’s Lush Prize was awarded this year with £250,000 to scientists, activists and educators working to end or replace animal testing in the industry.
The founders of Lush campaigned against animal testing before opening their first store on Poole High Street in 1995. The Lush Prize was created in 2012 as a joint venture between Lush and the Ethical Consumer Research Association and has awarded £2.7 million across 35 countries to 126 winners.
This year, 65 nominated organizations and individuals from 26 countries were evaluated by the jury in six categories. The awards went to scientists in the US, undercover agents in Spain and young researchers in the UK, Brazil and the Netherlands.
The £50,000 award for Best Global Project was given to activists in New Zealand who are campaigning against the forced swimming test – a practice in which small animals like rats and mice are forced to swim in an inescapable cup of water until they ” give up” and float.
The test was invented in 1970 and thousands of mice were given antidepressants or genetically engineered to induce depression. The theory was that a depressed rodent would give up faster than a happy one.
The campaign led to New Zealand’s Economic Development, Science and Innovation Selection Committee concluding that the test was “largely useless”. New Zealand’s animal ethics committees have since begun rejecting applications for the test to be performed.
Lush Prize Director Rob Harrison said: “The Prize was established 10 years ago to help end all animal testing, not least because it consistently provides misleading results on solutions to human health problems.
“The work of the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society has shown us that one way to achieve this goal could be to persuade governments to turn down one test at a time for the campaign.”
Two British scientists, Dr. Arthur de Carvalho e Silva from the University of Birmingham and Dr. Sudeep Joshi, from the Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London, were also each awarded a £10,000 Lush Prize for their work in the Young Researcher Prize category. This category is open to scientists who want to fund their next career step focused on a cruelty-free future.
dr Carvalho e Silva said: “Animal testing in chemical safety assessment has shown a reproducibility of about 80 percent and different laboratory animal species are only consistent in 60 percent of the tests. In addition, its relevance to human data has been questioned and studies have found that some animal studies are inconsistent with the human response.
“Although current non-animal testing methods also have limitations, some promising developments have been made.”