Ines Schumacher
Ines Schumacher

Congratulations ice bucket people, we’ve raised $90m for animal testing!



Yaaaaay, ice bucket challenge! I’m totes throwing ice cold water over myself right now to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. I choose you, Pikachu, as the next one to do it! Yaaaay!

And so the craze escalated more and more. Pretty much every celebrity on the planet did the challenge. Yaaaay!

Have you done it? Little did you know that you’re not only raising awareness, you’re also donating money towards animal testing. Yaaa … um, wait, what?!

In the past decade, only about a dozen experimental ALS treatments have moved on to human trials after being shown to alleviate the disease in animals. All but one of these treatments failed in humans — and the one that “passed” offers only marginal benefits to humans who suffer from ALS. — Pamela Anderson

Supporters of animal testing argue that “virtually ever medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way”. However, in this day and age, it is has become completely unnecessary to test anything on animals, be it beauty products or medicine. In fact, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, only 8 out of every 100 drugs that pass animal trials pass during the human clinical trial phase.

The problem is that species differences are so vast that animal results are, at best, a very poor approximation of what will happen in humans or, at worst, dangerously misleading.

Sophisticated non-animal testing methods — including in-vitro methods, advanced computer-modeling techniques, and studies with human volunteers, among others — have given us everything from the best life-saving HIV drugs to cloned human skin for burn victims. Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn’t only cruel — it’s a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures. — Pamela Anderson

I’m beyond glad that I hadn’t gotten around to donating money to ALS research yet.

The problem with social-media campaigns
My friend Leigh Andrews recently asked me a few questions about the Powa “more than a click” campaign that I participated in. Women who took part in the campaign were asked to change their relationship status to “single” on Facebook and post the following banner:

cover image1

A powerful statement. Unfortunately, as I told Leigh, the campaign received little uptake and attention. Changing your relationship status is not really “sexy” enough for people, it seems. Our public space is so dominated by masculinity that many women couldn’t fathom fake breaking up. After all, if you’re “in a relationship”, “engaged” or “married” you belong to someone. You are owned. Why would you want to change that?

Women commented on my new single status with the Powa picture attached with messages of support and expressed how clever the campaign was. All men who commented complained of a “heart attack” and “heart break”, completely ignoring what the point of the whole thing was.

I was deeply disappointed that no one indicated that they had donated and none of my friends picked up the baton of the campaign. Sure, a lot of it had to do with the fact that the campaign was local, not international. But it still doesn’t excuse the lack of local engagement.


I also took part in the #nomakeupselfie, an international campaign where you took a selfie of yourself wearing no make-up and donated money to breast cancer research. Yeah, the connection is tenuous, but it raised more than £8 million just in the UK. The campaign started to spiral out of control in that the message was “lost” and people started posting the posed, pouty, surprisingly well-lit selfies just for the sake of being part of the movement, rather than donate money to the equivalent local breast cancer cause.

Our society nowadays has unfortunately become one of slacktivism and these kinds of campaigns speak to those people who would rather not get off their ass to support a worthy cause.

On the other side the coin, if it’s fun, celebrities do it and it shows off your “hawt nipple stand”, people are more than eager to raise money for scientists to drill holes in mice’s heads.

Congratulations, humanity.

Check out to find out which charities you can support that do not poke and prod animals for no reason.

Tags: , , , ,

  • Prejudice, racism and entertainment
  • An inconvenient truth…animal cruelty is forever
  • The rise of the slacktivist
    • possum

      Thank you so much for pointing out where the money for this stupid stunt goes.

    • Peter

      Very naive post. You most probably have not lost a relative or friend to ALS and watched them slowly dwindle away, like I have, unable to move any part of their bodies except their eyes, not even swallow or cough. Your post is extremely simplistic and stereotyping too, there is not only one ALS research organisation or support group either, this is being done all over the world and they are most probably all using different research methods.
      I challenge you to do the ice bucket challenge and donate to MNDA of SA, account number 270629130, Standard Bank, Rondebosch branch 025009. The money goes to equipment and admin cost to support those with ALS. They provided amazing support to our family and I often referred to the lady who supported us as an angel. Have a look at their Facebook page.

    • Garg Unzola

      I am yearning for the day when animal testing is considered in a measured manner, with all the advantages piled against all the disadvantages.

      If your citation is from PETA, you can be certain that it’s second hand and third rate information. The real citation is here, from the FDA themselves.

      The picture you’re trying to endorse is that only about 2 in 10 treatments that get tested on animals even make it to human trials, so why bother? The real picture is rather that animal testing is effective in preventing harmful treatments from even reaching human trials 8 out of 10 times. That’s why it’s called pre-clinical development.

      I wonder if Stephen Hawking would mind that his treatment had been tested on animals if it were effective in allowing him to walk again or hug someone he cares about? How do you watch him doing something you take for granted, like going to the bathroom, and tell him that we could probably help him but testing on animals is wrong?

    • Garg Unzola

      (should be 92 out of 100 and 8 out of 100 – which means that animal testing is even more effective than I misquoted).

    • Moto

      im so pleased that you wrote this article – most people turn a blind eye to animal testing . either that or they are blissfully ignorant of it. animal testing is a modern day travesty.

    • Ines Schumacher

      Thanks for the comments, guys!

      Animal testing is quite a touchy subject so I’m glad that everyone is being civil. :)

      @Peter: I’m sorry for your loss, it must be terrible to experience that. Agreed, there is no one organisation, I should have clarified. The amount I mention in the headline is all going to the US ALS Association, which uses animal testing. Thank for your challenge and I will be donating to the local MNDA organisation you pointed me to. I don’t think the ice bucket part is necessary. :)

      @Garg Unzola: Look, animal testing has been exceptionally effective at keeping dangerous drugs away from people. But we’re in the 21st century. There is no firm evidence that animal testing has saved anyone’s life directly. This is true, for example, in the case of HIV – most drugs could probably have been developed without the use of animals.

      It’s also important to note that animals are often poor substitutes for humans, and some compounds that may well cause no harm to an animal, could seriously harm a human being. Likewise, a drug that is toxic to the animal it is tested on, may have no toxicity, and even therapeutic benefits in humans.

    • Rudolf

      A friend of mine died five years ago because of the result of ALS. The last year was hell for him and his family. Another friend of mine is currently in advanced stages of ALS. He is about 53. When he was 18, ready to go for national service, he told he made peace with the fact that he and an elephant is two mammals that is not able to jump because of the effects of ALS. He did his 2 years of national service with no excuses. Now the situation has deteriorated to the advanced stages, not nice to see…again. Where you involved with some one dying because his lung muscles can not function anymore, but is able to feel the wrinkles in the bed he is lying in, that is driving him crazy? Asking as you are writing with a sound of authority.

      With a scientists to drill holes in mice’s head with the far of chance of maybe an answer..Yaaaay…do it asap!! They don’t do it for fun, but for answers. Pamela Anderson’s claim to fame in life is also via scientists!

    • Garg Unzola

      Do you know how vaccines are produced? Or how the causes of diseases are found? I hate to break it to you, but this requires arks of suffering and dead animals.

      It’s very important to note that animals are poor substitutes for humans. This is why animal testing is only done in pre-clinical trials, but also why the FDA still bothers with human testing after the fact. Most countries require animal testing on at least 2 species for this reason too.

      Despite what is commonly claimed by PETA, Big Pharma doesn’t want to test on animals. It’s extremely costly to keep animals and to ensure that FDA requirements are met, but there is unfortunately no feasible substitute for the time being.

      Oh and if people stopped wearing make-up they’d of course destroy the cosmetics market and thereby make a huge portion animal testing entirely infeasible.

    • Ines Schumacher

      @Rudolf: Again, condolences. I think it’s important to try and separate the two issues of ALS research and animal testing. Would I drill holes in the head of mice to take the pain away from a loved one? Yes. Does it make it right? No. The same goes for any issue we are emotionally invested in, but that’s exactly why we have laws and ethics in society.

      Like Peter said, there are different research methodologies and I was pointing towards the US ALS Association. I’ve just donated to the local MDNA SA and applaud their efforts.

      @Garg: Definitely agree with you on the cosmetics industry. Big leaps have been made both there to reduce animal testing and Beauty Without Cruelty is one of organisations (not just Peta!) that supplies the public with information on what companies are certified as cruelty free.

      I know how vaccines and causes of diseases are found. Animal testing is only one of the ways in which it’s done. We should be focusing on expanding and improving efforts in in vitro cell culture techniques, in silico computer simulation and “micro dosing”, among other things. These techniques are not without flaws, but neither is animal testing.

    • Momma Cyndi

      The reason that people throw ICE WATER over themselves is because, for a second, you feel exactly how a person with ALS feels. Your muscles go into shock and you can’t breath. ALS is a relatively rare disease with almost zero research (it won’t make money for the pharmaceutical companies). To begrudge them that is a bit sad.

      My brother was a Thalidomide baby.
      As much as I detest the idea of testing drugs on apes, the idea of a mother going through what my mother went through, is even more distasteful.

    • Garg Unzola

      Yes, they have more flaws than animal testing since they’re mere models. Any model necessarily has limitations since it’s an abstraction. There’s currently no model that can replace pre-clinical trials, but models may help in refining known treatments.

      Beauty Without Cruelty is another farce just like Peta. For example, have we managed to track down the FDA’s source of the rate of pre-clinical trial treatments that make it to the next round? There’s only Peta and Pamela Anderson so far.

      There are no cosmetics treatments that do not rely on animal testing. Even in the EU, where animal testing is banned, they have to rely on second hand animal tests conducted in other regions to ensure that their products are safe. This is typical for the beauty industry, as can be seen from L’Oreal who wants to capitalise on this commodification of armchair slacktavism and its ignorant bigotry on one hand, while still happily testing on animals in China to comply with government regulations in the biggest domestic market in the world.

    • MsAnnThrope

      Let me give you an idea of how animal experiments are currently conducted:

      In order to perform any experiment using animals, one has to pass through an ethics committee. This committee has to agree that the experiment you’re conducting is neccessary, has a good chance of working (i.e. usually has been tested on invitro systems before), the number of animals used is as low as possible, and in general, everything will be done to minimise animal suffering. In addition, the person conducting the experiments is obliged to be qualified and capable of conducting the study with mimimum harm.

      If you would like to publish data from an animal study, every journal of quality will require an ethics statement, saying which code of ethics, under which law, was adhered to.

      Increasing ethical requirements, decreasing animal numbers, and pursuing alternate strategies for toxicity testing are a few of the things all scientists would agree with and most are actively pushing for. But stating that modern science no longers require animal testing is naive at best.

    • Christien

      I am an animal lover BUT I would rather my animal be used for testing than my child, my parent or my husband or myself. If animal lovers are so against animal testing they should offer themselves for this then.

    • http://Facebook Garth

      I don’t see any of you idiots volunteering as test subjects…

    • Anthony

      …or do the pharma’s just keep the animal experiments there as a safety net to prove that they did everything reasonably possible to prevent damage to humans when defending themselves in a court of law? I personally believe that very little value is achieved from animal tests compared to modern testing technices.

    • Stephen

      I would love to have a close, close chat with Miss Anderson on this (or any) issue. A real heart to heart so to speak. Those poor creatures that have suffered so horribly in the development of cosmetics and hair products she obviously cannot bear to wear.

    • BB

      Come on. It’s not like that is the only disease using animal testing. Why does everybody have their knickers in a knot because somebody else came up with a hugely successful way to raise money for their cause?!!

    • Bikoan Thinker

      Congratulations ice bucket people, we’ve raised $90m for Ebola Treatment!
      I hope humanity will come to that one day.

    • Duncan

      If the money raised saves even one human life it was worth it. Sorry for you