OREM At the request of animal rights activists, Utah-based juicemaker Tahitian Noni International announced this week that it will cease funding animal testing of its product.
The announcement came after months of interaction with representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
In a letter sent to PETA this week, Tahitian Noni outlined a new research policy that states in part, "Tahitian Noni Interna- tional is dedicated to scientifically valid research alternatives to animal testing and will not fund animal research . . . unless required by law."
The policy also extends to Tahitian Noni's cosmetics line, although those products have never been tested on animals.
"What we've done is we're moving away from animal testing," said Shon Whitney, vice president of marketing and communications for Tahitian Noni. "In the past, we haven't done a ton, but we're trying to move away from that as much as possible."
Whitney said in some cases, the government requires testing to be conducted on animals for safety reasons, but said the new policy will not fund animal research under any circumstance where it can be avoided.
"We're trying to seek alternatives to animal testing, and there are more and more of them every day," he said.
A spokesman for PETA said Tahitian Noni's decision will have a "lasting impact" in the corporate world.
"We anticipate this will be a rather big paradigm shift in the way big corporations, especially juice companies, conduct research," said Shalin Gala, a research associate at PETA. "Overall, it was a fairly positive interaction with (Tahitian Noni), and we're very pleased with how it turned out."
The tests in question involved creating tumors in mice and testing the effects of Noni Juice on them. Gala said similar tests are "fairly common" among juice companies.
Other juice companies, including Welch's, Ocean Spray and Sunny Delight, have discontinued animal tests at PETA's request, and the organization is working with other companies at present.
"As we work with more and more companies, they are realizing that there are better ways to conduct research," Gala said.
Whitney said the best form of research is to conduct human clinical trials, but many universities and research boards will not allow such tests until some benefit has been proven through other means of research, which in the past usually meant animal testing. But with new alternatives, such as test-tube experiments and chemical testing, Whitney said Tahitian Noni will use other methods more prevalently as it works toward human trials."We're intent on being an environment-friendly, animal-friendly and family-friendly company," he said.