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The rarely known truth behind cosmetics animal testing in Hong Kong

When I first heard about the term ‘Animal Testing’, it was the time I first started to work in the animal rights field. I was designing an assessment project about animal temperament, and I still remembered by simply naming the program ‘Animal Testing’, I scared off all my colleagues. My interpretation was straight minded and simple - animal testing is just a test for the animal, without harming it, and this has probably become a joke among my team.

Without a doubt, not only does animal experiment hurt animals, but also a cruel and harmful action to them.

When you key in the term ‘Animal Testing’ in Chinese and English on search engine, what you will retrieve is mostly information from Taiwan or overseas, minimal local information and data is available. The only information and coverage you could find was probably the news in 2018, about the plan of building of animal testing laboratory in Hong Kong Science Park and the discussion and debate generated. And it was only after reading the official release of governmental documents that we understood that over 100,000 animals were used in animal testing in Hong Kong. No

The “Animals (Control of Experiments) Ordinance” has been adopted since 1963 to regulate the experiments carried out on live vertebrates, a license or permit is required before any experiment is performed. The ordinance has urged the licensees to handle animals in a humane way and to control the number of animals being used to the minimal. In any possible ways, go for an alternative method without involving the use of animals in the experiment. Realistically, has the ordinance served its purpose to urge and encourage the use of alternative methods? What we see is the number of license application is up every year, more and more animals are being used in experiments. The number of mice used for animal experiments went up from 39,284 in 2013 to 118,066 in 2016, which was more than 300% increase.

Besides obtaining a license before conducting animal experiments, the licensee will also need to follow the instruction of “Code of Practice Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes”, with the aim of making sure the licensee takes animal welfare in place. However, the hidden truth behind the lines is saddening - all animals used shall be killed if they are injured or feeling pain after or during the experiments, without any curing treatment. Animals are just viewed as a consumable tool in animal experiments, licensee can perform euthanasia in accordance to the terms and conditions on the ordinance. Over 100,000 animals are used in experiments every year, and all of them are probably being euthanized at the end. The official data also lack transparency, other than the total number of animals being used every year, we have no clue about the actual number of animals being used in medical or research purposes, and for cosmetic safety testing,

The European Union has banned cosmetic animal testing since 2013, while in the case of Hong Kong, no action in relation to animal testing regulation has been conducted. Tons of beauty brands have landed Hong Kong for trading and business due to the free-trade of the city. Nothing about animal testing regulation and labelling is in place, and certainly no gate keeping and control measurement has been put in force. The lack of enforcement has led to a lot of confusion, some producers even play tricks and fake or expired certification labels were used. In most cases, consumers have no clue about whether or not the products have been tested on animals from solely reading the labels.

The issue of animal testing and its related topics is not receiving enough attention in Hong Kong. Through running this campaign, we hope to increase the awareness among students and the general public. We believe that beauty should not be built on the suffering of other species, the choices are in your hands, together we can make use of the consumer power and urge the producers to offer more animal-friendly products.

Written by Candy Ngan, Education Executive of Non-Profit Making Veterinary Services Society


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