Get beautiful without harming animals

Updated: 2014-04-02 08:38

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily)

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For the first time in its history, Humane Society International, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations, has chosen a Chinese actress, Zhu Zhu, to be an ambassador of its campaign Be Cruelty-Free in China.

It is the world's largest campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics globally, and has international celebrities as its ambassadors, including Paul McCartney and Leona Lewis.

In China, the movement began in 2013.

On March 25, the Humane Society International announced that the Chinese actress, who starred in Cloud Atlas and The Man with the Iron Fists, joined its international celebrity supporters.

"China is one of the world's largest beauty markets, but also one of the few countries where the law requires animal testing for cosmetics," says Zhang Yu, coordinator of the campaign in China.

The rules on animal testing for beauty products differ from country to country, and in European Union countries, the sale of such cosmetics are banned completely, Zhang adds.

The China Food and Drug Administration issued a draft in late 2013 related to changes in the registration and licensing of cosmetics. It indicated that China would gradually ease regulations on animal testing.

The draft stated that animal testing would no longer be mandatory for "non-specialized" cosmetics, including shampoo, soaps and certain skin products manufactured in China from June 2014.

But the draft regulation does not apply to "specialized" products, such as hair dyes, sunscreens and skin-whiteners, or to cosmetics manufactured outside the Chinese mainland.

Currently, Chinese cosmetic regulations require all substances to undergo safety evaluations by the government before they are used as cosmetic ingredients in China, which involves animal testing. That is to say, companies must provide data collected from animal testing for the evaluation, and sometimes, the government will conduct its own animal testing to ensure the data provided are true.

"We hope the campaign will awaken the public's awareness on animal protection. Animal testing is very cruel to animals, and also contradicts some beliefs."

A series of posters was unveiled at the ceremony to announce Zhu's ambassadorship. One poster features the former MTV China hostess in tears while cradling a rabbit, one of the most commonly used test animals.

Videos with Zhu speaking about her personal feelings toward animals and animal testing were also released. These videos will be broadcast in subways and on websites.

Zhu says she is honored to be involved in the campaign, contributing to animal protection.

"People in my profession use cosmetics every day, and I used to be curious about how animal testing is conducted in making cosmetics," Zhu says, adding that she loves animals and has owned pet dogs since she was 4.

"When I saw some videos on animal-testing procedures, I was shocked and saddened (by the way it's done). It is too cruel."

About 300,000 animals, including rabbits, mice, and other animals, suffer from animal testing in China every year, according to Qin Xiaona, president of the Capital Animal Welfare Association.

Chemicals are dripped into animals' eyes to check if they are harmful to human eyes, and acute toxicity testing is conducted through exposing animals to chemicals through oral means, shaved skin, or inhalation, without any pain-relief measure, Qin says.

But Qin admits China is making progress, with the government setting regulations to phase out some mandatory animal testing for domestically produced cosmetics.

(China Daily 04/02/2014 page22)