Avon & China: the Economics of Harm

UPDATE from In Defense of Animals, posted on FB, July 2014. China Stops Cosmetic Animal Testing The Chinese government just passed a law that removes animal testing requirements on cosmetic products. With a $1.7 billion cosmetics industry, this is a major change that will save countless animal lives. This is a huge reversal from China’s 2012 animal testing mandate for all cosmetic products, which prompted companies like Avon and Estée Lauder to drop their cruelty-free policies and start animal testing in order to tap into the growing Chinese cosmetics market. Due to loopholes in the law, experts warn that some animal testing may continue, but it’s a big step in the compassionate direction.
Let’s leave the subject of animals for a moment, and focus on the specious arguments by which multi-national industries get away with murder, so to speak. In the late sixties, when I was about 16, I watched a TV documentary on how cosmetics and beauty care companies experimented on animals to both test and improve their products (at the time, as I recall, “hypoallergenic” shampoos were the newest thing). TV images in that doc of cats with their skulls prised open and electrodes attached to their brains, eyes, and faces left me in shock.
I had only just begun wearing makeup (strict upbringing) and was now faced with what I thought was a moral dilemma. I had already joined the second wave of feminism and would shortly be working with other young women to set up a Women’s Centre at my local college (CEGEP). Wasn’t that enough? Some of the more militant feminists had already eschewed cosmetics, but for completely unrelated reasons.

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