FIRST PER­SON LI HUA A cruel and un­eth­i­cal prac­tice

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

Ed­i­tor’s note: Li Hua is pres­i­dent of An­i­mal Guardians, an an­i­mal rights NGO.

An­i­mal pro­tec­tion is an in­ter­na­tional trend, and an­i­mal cru­elty is an af­front to hu­man­ity. In 2006, the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy is­sued guid­ance on the hu­mane treat­ment of an­i­mals used in ex­per­i­ments. I be­lieve the big cos­met­ics brands have acted in ac­cor­dance with the ad­vice, but some pri­vate com­pa­nies haven’t al­ways com­plied.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s move is a sig­nal that China is keep­ing pace with the world in stan­dard­iz­ing prac­tices on an­i­mals used in ex­per­i­ments.

Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances have pro­vided a wide range of tests that don’t in­clude an­i­mals. They have been used in many coun­tries. Chi­nese com­pa­nies that in­sist on us­ing out­dated test meth­ods, thereby act­ing cru­elly, are driven by noth­ing more than a de­sire to lower costs and max­i­mize their in­ter­ests.

At the same time, their ac­tions lower the safety of the prod­uct, be­cause to­tal steril­ity can­not be guar­an­teed when an­i­mals are used in ex­per­i­ments. It’s a hid­den form of profit max­i­miza­tion. This leads on to the is­sue of cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity. Cos­met­ics com­pa­nies should reg­u­larly pub­lish their short, medium and long-term fact sheets, in­clud­ing those de­tail­ing the use of lab­o­ra­tory an­i­mals.

Mal­treat­ment of an­i­mals dur­ing tests causes dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment. China is the world’s largest breeder of lab an­i­mals and also uses them more than any other coun­try. Reg­u­la­tory loop­holes have even prompted a num­ber of many for­eign brands to con­duct an­i­mal-based ex­per­i­ments on Chi­nese soil.

If the pub­lic were ex­posed to gory pho­tos of an­i­mal cru­elty in labs, I don’t doubt that the re­ac­tion would be wide­spread anger. But if it hap­pened re­peat­edly, it could numb pub­lic per­cep­tions or even trig­ger copy­cats.

Do­mes­tic cos­metic brands should co­op­er­ate with some of the world’s largest cos­metic brands to see how we can im­prove the tech­nol­ogy and stop an­i­mal test­ing, while also en­sur­ing prod­uct safety. With tech­nol­ogy and ten­der­ness com­bined, things would change even­tu­ally.

This should not be lim­ited to the an­i­mal pro­tec­tion cir­cle, though. I think the Chi­nese peo­ple have the right to de­mand th­ese com­pa­nies make changes within a cer­tain pe­riod. The is­sue also has a great bear­ing on China’s na­tional rep­u­ta­tion. The new gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion will help the pub­lic learn more about cru­elty to an­i­mals in labs.

Li Hua spoke to Zhang Lei.

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