On Bastille Day, July 14, 14 groups of animal activists, including former Procter & Gamble worker Alicia Witt, meet at Fountain Square to protest P&G's consumer-product testing on animals.
Filling the corner of Fifth and Vine streets, the activists shout to passing pedestrians and motorists, "Boycott Procter & Gamble!"
Signs show mangled rabbits, monkeys in head harnesses and pictures of products from the Cincinnati-based company.
"Pain and Greed" is the new meaning of P&G, according to Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now.
"The essential fact about P&G is that they want everybody to forget about the issue of animal testing," Budkie says. "The fact is that Procter & Gamble has continued to do product testing on animals when it was not required by law and when over 500 other companies have stopped doing testing on animals."
Companies that have stopped or have never tested on animals include such major firms as Revlon, Almay and Paul Mitchell. So why, the activists ask, is P&G not following the lead of other corporations?
Rabbit can't run
Budkie provides a 1998 annual report on P&G by the Animal and Plant Inspection Service. The report lists the kinds and numbers of animals used in experiments and whether they were administered anesthetics.
The data belies the gruesome nature of the testing. Rabbits are restrained and chemicals poured directly into their eyes; this is referred to as a Draize test. Restrained to the point of immobility, some rabbits break their backs fighting the restraints. Budkie says rabbits are used because they have a special membrane on their eyes that retains the chemicals. The report states this is necessary to test the irritancy of the substance.
But Budkie rejects the idea.
"Force-feeding chemicals to rats and mice and putting chemicals in the eyes of rabbits does not make products any more safe for people to use," he says. "You still can't eat Tide. If you get Spic and Span in your eyes, it will cause damage."
Cecilia Hennessy, a biology student at the University of Cincinnati, has researched animal testing and other methods that can be used to check the effects of consumer products. She found a method where chemicals are tested in a petri dish directly on human skin cells.
"No one gets hurt, and it is far more scientific, because you are dealing with human cells and how they respond," Hennessy says. "People have died because of animal testing, because they say something is safe after it passed the animal test, but we don't know how we are going to respond to something that a dog does."
A pamphlet produced by the animal-rights group Terraphile illustrates a mistake that was made when the effect of smoking was tested on several animal species; the results led researchers to believe smoking did not cause cancer. We now know that smoking does have adverse effects on humans, and could cause cancer -- but it did not in the animals.
After discussing the Draize test and vivisection (the cutting open of a living thing), Budkie encourages people to go home and "throw away" their P&G products.
"Remember, animals at labs never see the sun," Budkie says.
He encourages the crowd to call or write P&G, and say they will never again buy a P&G product.
"We want P&G to stop experimenting on animals," says activist Mark Burwinkel. "There is no need to experiment on animals." ©