Category: animal rights

blog post of the week

(OK, originally posted a year ago. But still.) This came to my attention through a link via another link on a discussion board. It’s nice. No, it’s excellent. Well-written, wise, witty, to the point, and true. I agree with everything here, even though my own buying and deploying decisions have differed.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 11.13.29 AM

Oh no! Who Put ‘Sad’ and ‘Guilt’ In My Lotion?” Stuff I Put On Myself (2012-10-09)

[...] I get questions about this stuff all the time…  variations of which chemicals to avoid, how to avoid animal testing, how to find natural products, blah blah blah.  People really want to pick the right thing, so it does what they need AND doesn’t cause them guilt and/or anxiety about poisoning/abusing themselves or animals or the whole planet.

I am going to preface this by saying that my feelings on these topics aren’t going to be popular.  That’s fine!  We can all think different things and still be pals!

I’ve read a lot about cosmetic industry standards, terminology and what you have to do to be allowed to use certain terminology, and I am married to a chemical engineer who will always spend 45 minutes explaining the minutia of any little question you ask about chemicals, and also will go all Mr. Wizard on you and lay it down if you slip up and say some buzzword that is essentially bullshit marketing.  Dude can even tell you what’s in the tanker truck by looking at the little number on the back.

Unfortunately, much like with everything else in the world, it is sobering and depressing to actually know what’s up.

[Read on... ]

animal testing: good news

[...] announcement by China’s Food & Drug Administration that from June 2014, China plans to remove its mandatory animal test requirements for domestically manufactured cosmetic products. For the first time ever, Chinese companies producing “non-special use cosmetics” such as shampoo or perfume will have the option to substantiate product safety using existing safety data for raw ingredients, or European Union-validated non-animal tests instead of having to submit product samples to the government for testing on rabbits, mice and rats.

China to phase out mandatory cosmetics animal testing
Human Society International, 2013-11-07

See also:

To celebrate, here is three minutes’ worth of happy bouncing “binking” bunny, accompanied by appropriate uplifting triumphant music:

And a classic happy bunny-themed Christmas message from the RSPCA:


white poppies for peace

White poppies from the Peace Pledge Union (little seen here, but something I grew up with).

Red poppies, here in Canada, from the Royal Canadian Legion. Elsewhere, from your local veterans’ association.

Wear one. Wear one of each, wear both of them together. Either way, respect and remember.

Stop and think, quietly and concentratedly, at 11:00 today. Or 11:00 on the nearest Sunday; so if you forgot yesterday, you can remember to remember today; or why not remember more than once? This isn’t an occasion to nit-pick as to whether the moment of the Armistice’s signing is “the” moment: what’s important is remembering.

One minute, traditionally, for the 20 million dead of World War I; a second minute for those they left behind. Extend that to those who died in all conflicts, to the veterans who survived and returned, and to their loved ones. The war dead of the last century alone surely deserve at least two minutes of your time, why not make it more? For your own personal war dead, if you have any. For those of your family, over generations. For loved ones of friends, colleagues, neighbours, local community. And in sympathy with other people: anyone, anywhere, any time. This is not about “God And Country” gung-ho war-mongering and macho posturing: it’s about suffering and solidarity; humanist, humane, and human.

Three other perspectives.

1. “This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time” (The Guardian, 2013-11-11)

2. “Crowds turn out to mourn ‘unknown soldier’ Percival after appeal” (The Guardian, 2013-11-11)

3. Remember, also, animals in war: the RSPCA’s campaigns, and the BC SPCA; the famous fictional version of Michael Morpurgo’s Warhorse (and the play and animated movie); and the Dickin Medal. Not to forget other animal casualties of war, as highlighted recently in a care2 campaign.

maria dickin

More about the Dickin Medal (for the record: the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a British veterinary charity) also awards a civilian equivalent, the PDSA Gold Medal):

The Dickin Medal is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and pale blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.

During the Second World War (1939-45), PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin CBE was aware of incredible bravery displayed by animals on active service and the Home Front. Inspired by the animals’ devotion to man and duty, she introduced a special medal specifically for animals in war.

The PDSA Dickin Medal, recognised as the animals’ Victoria Cross, is awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units. The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict.

The Medal, which can only be considered on receipt of an official commendation, has been awarded 64 times since 1943. The recipients comprised 32 pigeons, 28 dogs, three horses and one cat.

Most recently:

Theo – Springer Spaniel
Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Arms and Explosives Search dog
Date of Award: awarded posthumously on 25 October 2012
For outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty while deployed with 104 Military Working Dog (MWD) Squadron during conflict in Afghanistan September 2010 to March 2011.

Here’s Theo:


And some previous Dickin Medal recipients:

dickin medal dickin medal dickin medal dickin medaldickin medal

Images above: Sky News

animal testing and China

be cruelty-free, china

Sold in China’ Could Take on New Meaning in Campaign to End Cosmetics Animal Testing
–Mark Jones, Huffington Post 2013-07-15

Be Cruelty-Free: the global campaign, Humane Society International

Be Cruelty-Free: China

PETA, eat your monoglot America-centric aggressive imperialist hat: here’s how the intelligent, courteous, civilized, constructive grown-ups do it.

good news on animal testing

Another late item, as I’m going through stuff I’d skim-read rapidly last month and bookmarked or vaguely saved.

Taking the lead: India becomes first South Asian country to ban animal testing for cosmetics” (India Today, 2013-06-28)

In a historic decision, hailed by activists, animal lovers and environmentalists, India has banned animal testing for cosmetics.

In a decision of rare unanimity, the Bureau of Indian Standards has decided to remove animal testing as a legal and legitimate standard for cosmetics. Going a step further, to avoid exploitation of loopholes, the Bureau has also made alternative non-animal tests mandatory.

Supporting the decision, MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, said: “This is a great day for India and for the thousands of animals who will no longer suffer, yet more work must be done. Our government must go a step further by banning cosmetics products that are tested on animals abroad and then imported and sold here in India. Only then will India demonstrate its commitment to compassion and modern, non-animal research methods and truly be cruelty free.”

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals(PETA), also hailed the ruling, saying, “India’s decision shows the way for all countries that are still undecided about whether to ban cosmetics animal testing. Those countries should take action now, follow India’s lead and end cruelty for beauty.”

As per the new rules, any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must first seek approval from India’s Central Drug Standards Control Organisation. A manufacturer will be given approval to test only after complying with the BIS non-animal standards.

However, this is not the end of the road and will not completely eradicate animal testing. The ban will actually achieve its full goal of preventing animal cruelty if a follow-up ban on selling cosmetics newly tested on animals in other parts of the world is put into place. A sales ban will prevent companies from outsourcing testing to third countries and importing the animal-tested beauty products back into India for sale.

Internationally, Israel and all the 27 EU countries are the only ones to have implemented both testing and sales bans, comprehensively.

See also:



Australian news: consumers misled/lied to by (some) companies about cruelty-free cosmetics

The news item in brief:

The consumer watchdog Choice (Australian version) led an undercover investigation in Australia. Choice sent secret shoppers to the counters of major cosmetics companies to find out if these companies were upfront with consumers about their policies on animal testing. They found that many manufacturers’ websites, packaging, and sales staff are failing to inform Australian customers that their beauty products are tested on animals in China.

These companies included, amongst others: Avon, Bobbi Brown, Dior, Estee Lauder (and their sub-brands), Lancôme, Mary Kay, L’Oréal, MAC, Shiseido, SK-II.

Choice will be reporting a list of these offenders to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission this week.

Sources and further information:

  • “Top cosmetics brands ‘lying to customers about animal testing,’ ” AAP c/o (2013-05-06)
  • “Consumers ‘being misled’ over cruelty free cosmetics,” Amy Bainbridge, ABC News (2013-05-06)
  • “Which major cosmetics companies are misleading consumers about animal testing?” Melody Marks, Examiner (2013-05-06)
  • “Animal testing labelling: Can you trust a cosmetic company’s claims that its products aren’t tested on animals? If it sells them in China, possibly not.” Zoya Sheftalovich, The People’s Watchdog (2013-05-06)


  • careful careful CAREFUL on actual situation, i.e. Chinese law and what happens in China in practice, may be more complicated: it’s not necessarily a simple case of “sold in China = animal-tested”; I don’t know enough about Chinese law (and can’t read, write, or speak Chinese), would defer on this to experts who do; I hope Choice (or anyone else similarly solid and reputable) works with such people, and maybe even has them lead the team, in conducting follow-up further investigations.
    Note the difference in reporting, and the effects of increasingly sensationalist/~ising tweaks to the statements made: just looking at the headlines, you see a move from “possibly” (Choice) via “misled” to “lying.”
  • caveat emptor as ever on “beauty consultants” and other sales assistants/associates. But their job is to sell you stuff, and as soon as they figure out what you want and don’t want, they’ll try to sell you that. If they don’t have that, they’ll try to persuade you either (a) to buy something else because it’s the same/better, or (b) that something they do have is actually what you’re looking for.
    Examples: foundation that’s the wrong colour, a different mascara, scented skincare, “it’s all-natural so it’s good for your skin,” “all our products are suitable for skin with acne/eczema/bubonic plague”… or, as here, “yes all our stuff is cruelty-free.”
  • Yes, all people (whether or not they’re selling stuff) should be honest; but maybe they don’t know, maybe they’re not the smartest cookies in the jar (and maybe that’s why they’re in these jobs?).
    Maybe that’s been exploited by their managers and trainers, in limiting what information they give out.
    Maybe (to be fair to the trainers) keeping things simple (for simpler minds), dumbing down, simplifying the information, and result: some untruths.
    Maybe SAs aren’t capable of asking the right questions (to those Higher Up), or thinking about non-robot questions that customers ask them, and the result is “a fatal error has occurred, reboot and meanwhile spout garbage.”
  • More on cruelty-free stuff and China here

PETA news(ish) to repost

Nathan J. Winograd (Director, No Kill Center), “Shocking Photos: PETA’s Secret Slaughter of Kittens, Puppies.” Huffington Post (2013-04-02)
With thanks to MUAer JoshuaP for bringing this to my and other Green Boarders’ attention.

Warning: contains graphic images.

Warning: kinda sorta not news. I’m sorry if this is news to you, but PETA’s been clear for aaages that they “euthanize” un-adoptable rescued animals. For all the time I’ve known of PETA’s existence. What is news to me is the extent to which killing isn’t the exception but the rule. And the cynical manipulation of kind, good-hearted, well-meaning people to get their money. Which said people might think is going towards the maintenance of shelters and their inhabitants. And running fleets of mobile spaying vans. Not to killing animals off as cheaply as possible, spending lavishly on advertising campaigns, those vans having a quite different and darker purpose, and… um… wherever else the money goes…

As my grandad used to say: “where there’s brass, there’s muck / where there’s muck, there’s brass.” I was often perplexed as to which was which, and when to use one version of the phrase rather than the other. He would nod, wink, and say I’d got the point.

Caveat: it remains to be seen Continue reading

fun footwear

You all know Adbusters, right?

At least as the most expensive magazine sold in Whole Foods?

(That’s something that cracks me up every time, and especially whenever I’m standing in line behind a yummy mummy yoga bunny my-body-is-a-temple more-money-than-sense label-ridden functionally illiterate twerp. But I digress.)

Well. They’ve moved into footwear. Old news, I know: see this early post about them, in the prototype stage back in summer 2008, plus the usual fun comments. Another way to take over/back the city streets. Kick ass ethically. Grass-roots anarchism, from the ground up, with emphasis on your feet that are on said ground, amongst that herbaceousness. With power to the people who make the shoes too.

blackspot shoes

Continue reading

some sceptical selections

from online reading of the last while…

Here’s the start, I hope it incites you to continue reading…

I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.

When I first heard about Monsanto’s GM soya I knew exactly what I thought. Here was a big American corporation with a nasty track record, putting something new and experimental into our food without telling us. Mixing genes between species seemed to be about as unnatural as you can get – here was humankind acquiring too much technological power; something was bound to go horribly wrong. These genes would spread like some kind of living pollution. It was the stuff of nightmares.

These fears spread like wildfire, and within a few years GM was essentially banned in Europe, and our worries were exported by NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to Africa, India and the rest of Asia, where GM is still banned today. This was the most successful campaign I have ever been involved with.

This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. We employed a lot of imagery about scientists in their labs cackling demonically as they tinkered with the very building blocks of life. Hence the Frankenstein food tag – this absolutely was about deep-seated fears of scientific powers being used secretly for unnatural ends. What we didn’t realise at the time was that the real Frankenstein’s monster was not GM technology, but our reaction against it.

For me this anti-science environmentalism became increasingly inconsistent with my pro-science environmentalism with regard to climate change. I published my first book on global warming in 2004, and I was determined to make it scientifically credible rather than just a collection of anecdotes.

So I had to back up the story of my trip to Alaska with satellite data on sea ice, and I had to justify my pictures of disappearing glaciers in the Andes with long-term records of mass balance of mountain glaciers. That meant I had to learn how to read scientific papers, understand basic statistics and become literate in very different fields from oceanography to paleoclimate, none of which my degree in politics and modern history helped me with a great deal.

I found myself arguing constantly with people who I considered to be incorrigibly anti-science, because they wouldn’t listen to the climatologists and denied the scientific reality of climate change. So I lectured them about the value of peer-review, about the importance of scientific consensus and how the only facts that mattered were the ones published in the most distinguished scholarly journals.

My second climate book, Six Degrees, was so sciency that it even won the Royal Society science books prize, and climate scientists I had become friendly with would joke that I knew more about the subject than them. And yet, incredibly, at this time in 2008 I was still penning screeds in the Guardian attacking the science of GM – even though I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding. I don’t think I’d ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science even at this late stage.

Obviously this contradiction was untenable. What really threw me were some of the comments underneath my final anti-GM Guardian article. In particular one critic said to me: so you’re opposed to GM on the basis that it is marketed by big corporations. Are you also opposed to the wheel because because it is marketed by the big auto companies?

So I did some reading. And I discovered that one by one my cherished beliefs about GM turned out to be little more than green urban myths.