A couple of months ago a few animal rights organizations published articles claiming that Seventh Generation, long known for being a cruelty free and vegan friendly brand, was supporting an act that would increase animal testing in the United States. The articles claimed that this was true because Seventh Generation was funding a grassroots organization that supported an act that would increase animal testing. The news spread like wildfire and many turned it into a statement that Seventh Generation was testing on animals themselves.
Update on September 19, 2016 – Unilever has announced plans to purchase Seventh Generation. For consumers like myself who do not purchase from brands with a parent company that test on animals, I will need to replace most of my cleaning products based on this acquisition alone.
When I first heard about the issue, I reached out to Seventh Generation immediately. PETA and PCRM were both saying some confusing things about their political involvement and I was shocked to hear that such an animal friendly brand would have that involvement. Their CEO agreed to answer some very specific questions I had about their animal testing stance and views on animal testing in general.
It is untrue that the Seventh Generation animal testing stance has changed. The brand is still certified as cruelty free by Logical Harmony and Leaping Bunny. What surprised me most was the amount of outdated information and miscommunication being shared around this issue. Even by usually trustworthy sources.
This news may be old to some, but I was even more shocked to find out that the loose ends were never tied up in this issue and a lot of people were unaware of the outcome. Continue reading to view the full Q&A.
Anyone who wrote to Seventh Generation asking about their stance on animal testing reform received the following response:
“Let me personally thank you for taking the time to write and to express your concerns on animal testing. First, I want to assure you that Seventh Generation has never performed animal testing on our products or ingredients. We feel it is unfortunate and unethical that PETA has misrepresented our principles and practices.
We hear you loud and clear and agree with you – we must urge our Federal regulators to find non-animal means to test products and chemicals for safety. In addition, we are on a mission to urge Congress to reform our severely outdated toxic chemical laws which, since 1976, have allowed over 80,000 new chemicals to enter the market with significant harm to planetary, human and animal health and well-being. Our government is allowing companies to poison our children, our pets and our planet. We believe we must find a way to stop this tragedy and do so without further harm to animals. For 25+ years we’ve created products and tested formulations without harming animals. There is no reason to subjugate any animal to this cruel punishment.
This week, we issued our 2013 Corporate Consciousness Report, which examines and celebrates the progress we’ve made pioneering sustainability goals. If you take a look, you’ll see that the report references our high standards for ingredient selection, including no animal products (p32) and no animal testing (p67). The report also mentions our mission-driven campaign to create a healthy environment for all living things, asking Congress to strengthen regulations on toxic chemicals. This is a moral imperative.
Shortly after issuing our report, PETA and PCRM issued a call to action against us, misrepresenting our position on such reform. We believe we share common goals with PETA and PCRM and find it ironic and short-sighted that they would attack us as we fight to reduce the harm that so many other companies perpetrate to our people, our planet and our animals through testing and through spewing toxic chemicals into our world. We believe that we share many common objectives including PETA’s stated stance that animal testing must be used only as a last resort, yet, PETA does not support our call for chemical reform laws. We have asked them to join us on our campaign and they have refused. They believe toxic chemical reform cannot be achieved without harm to animals. While we respect their opinion, we also disagree with it. We believe we can and must strive to achieve both goals for the benefit of animals, children and our planet. Our critics are rightfully concerned with a potential outcome – where we succeed in changing toxic chemical laws but aren’t able to get Congress to reform the standards for safety by eliminating all forms of animal testing. We share their concern and have given it great thought and real pause. Yet, failing to move forward perpetuates our current system that increases the toxic chemical load and continues an inhumane animal testing safety protocol. We view this as a greater risk.
To be transparent on where we stand, here is what I’d like you to know:
- Seventh Generation has never and will never test our products or ingredients on animals and we remain a Leaping Bunny certified organization.
- Outdated federal laws are allowing thousands of untested and unregulated toxic chemicals to wreak havoc on our planet and impact the health of all living creatures.
- We are advocating for meaningful reform that strengthens toxic chemical regulation, while protecting both human AND animal health.
- Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, we absolutely think that legislative reform should promote the development and use of viable alternatives to animal testing and, after conversations with PETA and PCRM, have included language that requires non-animal testing be used preferentially. We did, however, stop short of signing PCRM’s letter.*
We think you deserve the truth and a balanced argument so you can make your own decision. We value your opinion and appreciate that you have shared it with us. We’re hopeful that together we can harness our energy and passion to create a world safe for all living species.
John B Replogle
CEO, Seventh Generation”
Logical Harmony: Many people first heard about potential support of animal testing from an article published by PETA titled Tell Seventh Generation To Clean Up Their Act. This article has now been removed by PETA.*
This article states, “The company has been an outspoken advocate of a number of campaigns that promote tests on animals, including its own Million Baby Crawl. Now the company has gone even further by refusing to support reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act that would reduce the number of animals poisoned and killed in experiments. These reforms would mandate that tests on animals be conducted only after all other methods of obtaining information on a chemical have been exhausted.”
How does the Seventh Generation Million Baby Crawl relate to animal testing? Where do the funds generated by this crawl go and what causes do they support?
Seventh Generation: The Million Baby Crawl was a 2009 campaign to raise awareness of our country’s outdated law on toxic chemicals and ask Congress for reform. Absolutely no money was raised through the campaign. We also completely agree that animal testing should be conducted only after all other methods of obtaining information on a chemical have been exhausted.
Logical Harmony: It appears that there are several proposed reforms for the Toxic Substances Control Act that would have various impacts. This article does not indicate a specific reform. Has PETA approached Seventh Generation in the past about a specific reform to this act? Was Seventh Generation made aware of this article before it’s publication?
Seventh Generation: PETA has not approached Seventh Generation with a request to support any specific piece of legislation that would reform TSCA. Seventh Generation was not made aware of the article.
Logical Harmony: On the website The Dodo another article was published titled Is Seventh Generation Really Cruelty Free. This article has now been removed by The Dodo.
This article states, “Seventh Generation is lobbying for specific changes to the 1976 federal law intended to defend consumers from toxic industrial chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). These reforms would require tens of millions of animals to be used in lethal experiments. The company has been pioneering initiatives to drive these policies forward through various grassroots campaigns and coalitions, including the Million Baby Crawl and the Toxin Freedom Fighters Campaign.”
What changes has Seventh Generation been lobbying for? What groups has Seventh Generation been working with to lobby these changes? What stance on animal testing do these groups have?
Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation has been asking Congress for reform meeting these principles:
- Chemical reform should protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children, animals, workers and communities who are disproportionately exposed to chemicals.
- Chemical reform should require public access to information regarding the safety of chemicals.
- Chemical reform must respect the rights of states to protect their residents when the federal government fails to do so.
- Chemical reform should require the Environmental Protection Agency to take fast action on the most harmful chemicals and include specific timetables for such regulatory actions.
?We’ve been working with a number of NGOs including: Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families; Breast Cancer Fund; American Nurses Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
You can see Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ position here: http://saferchemicals.org/documents/safer-chemicals-healthy-families-position-statement-on-animal-welfare/. The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign does not support unnecessary, repeated or senseless testing of toxic chemicals on animals. Instead, we favor the adoption of research methods that minimize reliance on animal testing. We believe the bill introduced to reform the nation’s toxic chemical laws should promote the development and use of viable alternatives to animal testing.
Logical Harmony: What reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act does Seventh Generation support? There have been claims that Seventh Generation supported grassroots efforts to increase animal testing. Is there any truth to this?
Seventh Generation: We have been asking for the reforms listed above. We have not been lobbying to increase animal testing. We’ve been lobbying for reform that would protect all living things from the thousands of unregulated toxic chemicals on the market today.
Logical Harmony: It’s my understanding that Seventh Generation is very interested in making sure that the environmental impact of substances is tested. If this would mean an increase in animal testing, is that still something that Seventh Generation would support?
Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation advocates for reform to TSCA that achieves our 4 principles (question 4). We are concerned with human, animal and environmental health.
Logical Harmony: Has Seventh Generation ever supported any reforms that would mean an increase in animal testing?
Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation advocates for reform that achieve our 4 priorities (question 4) and protect human, animal and environmental health.
We support further development of alternative test methods that produce valid information, while recognizing that we aren’t there yet.
Logical Harmony: Does Seventh Generation believe that a reform could be made to the Toxic Substances Control Act that would not increase animal testing? Is this a reform that Seventh Generation would support?
Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation does not consider ourselves toxicity testing experts outside our field of practice of personal and homecare products. Therefore, we look to our partners and experts in the human, animal and environmental health field to inform and advise on this issue.
Logical Harmony: I saw that Seventh Generation was linking out to this video and saying it is the stance they have on this act. Does this mean that Seventh Generation would only support a reform to this law if it meant that there would not be an increase in animal testing?
Seventh Generation: We agree with PCRM in principle and we believe that legislative reform should promote the development and use of viable alternatives to animal testing, with animal testing used only as a last resort.
Logical Harmony: Many people are confused by these articles and believe it means that Seventh Generation has started testing on animals themselves. Currently, Seventh Generation is certified as cruelty-free by both Logical Harmony and Leaping Bunny. Has anything about the Seventh Generation stance on animal testing changed?
Seventh Generation: We’ve witnessed the confusion and misrepresentation on this issue and we are dismayed by it. We’ve never tested our ingredients or products on animals and we never will. We remain a Leaping Bunny certified company. You can read our just released sustainability report here and you’ll see that the report references our high standards for ingredient selection, including no animal products (p32) and no animal testing (p67).
Please note that this interview took place in late August of 2014. I did not post it earlier because I did not think it was needed.
What I did not realize until recently was that all of the original articles claiming Seventh Generation supported animal testing had been deleted without updates being posted or promoted.
Recently a reader told me that they were now against Seventh Generation because they had recently heard that Seventh Generation supported animal testing. I was surprised that this information was still being spread and decided to dig into it again. That is when it became clear to me how much bad information was still out there and how much missing information there was as well. Instead of posting updates, organizations and news sites were simply deleting the original articles!
Because of this, I wanted to share the information I had with the readers of Logical Harmony. As always, I think it is very important for consumers to have an understanding of situations and make educated choices. It saddens me that two groups against animal testing spoke out too soon against a brand and did not do their due diligence to correct the misinformation spread by their articles.
Hopefully this exclusive Q&A with Seventh Generation about animal testing brings some clarity to those still unaware of how Seventh Generation really feels about animal testing.