FIRST PERSON LI HUA A cruel and unethical practice
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 Chinese companies that insist on using outdated test methods, thereby acting cruelly, are driven by nothing more than a desire to lower costs and maximize their interests.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.