UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: 2014-04-27…
These guys are definitely in my Good Books. I’m not posting up the full and very courteous and honest reply I received, just two shorts excerpts and the official policy document that came attached. My reply came from a “corporate communications manager” for the Weleda group. Titles / job descriptions like that tend to raise my hackles. Never mind my anti-bureaucratic, anti-BS/NewSpeak, and anti-kleptocratic prejudices: it is rare to receive such a full and detailed reply: other companies, take note. Boxes ticked:
- answered the questions asked
- didn’t just copy and paste a canned answer given to all enquiries
- didn’t just respond to the first keyword spotted rather than reading the whole bloody question
- was written well and elegantly, a pleasure to read
Message to other companies that consider themselves ethical, responsible, and so on: here’s how it’s done to the highest standard. In my humble and doubtless highly prejudiced opinion. Here is one excerpt from the email (note: “cosmetic” here isn’t used in the sense of “cosmetics / make-up” but in the more technical sense of “not a medically-necessary treatment”; so it includes skincare, bath stuff, baby skincare, men’s skin and shaving and grooming products, toothpaste, deodorant, and other toiletries) :
[…] China: This has always been a very small business for us, managed from our headquarters in Switzerland. There are some cosmetics that do not require animal testing in Mainland China, but we also had an unfortunate experience with three of our products there that were tested on animals without our knowledge. For some time, there were different views within the company as to what to do with these three products. They are now being withdrawn from the Mainland. Please see the statement on our sales in Mainland China that I have attached here for additional details.
Here’s the aforementioned statement, which you’ll see had been neatly, succinctly, and pretty accurately summarized:
UPDATE (2014-04-27): I’m guessing that Weleda received a fair number of enquiries similar to mine, enough to merit composing that standard response. I am not the only person to have received it. On the other hand, it’s simply a declaration of official company policy; and at least it’s being communicated openly; and at least my email did receive (a) a response, that (b) actually responded to each point raised.
I’ve tempered my enthusiasm and praise; certainly, their response was a good one compared to other companies; but I don’t think for a minute that they dealt with my query any more attentively than anyone else’s, or that they care any more or less about one individual. Do bear in mind that this is a company, and their main purpose in life is being a business, staying that way, continuing, growing, and turning a profit. Yes, good customer relations don’t hurt. But that’s all they–and individuals like me–are: customers. Do not confuse relations (international, PR, etc.) with relationships. That way madness (or marketing) lies.
Sceptical note aside, back to the original update…
BACK TO THE ORIGINAL UPDATE
Another comment, on another excerpt:
[…] We could adopt the Leaping Bunny seal or similar seals for our personal care products, but so far, we have decided not to do so because we are afraid that this may cause confusion, since we market our pharmaceuticals under the same brand. […]
Weleda use alternative testing methods wherever possible (= in practical terms almost always), including on human subjects. And remember, we’re talking medicaments here. Wherever you may stand on homeopathy and anthroposophy—myself, I’m more in the QuackWatch and Bad Science camp here—these guys are testing them to standard medical, well, standards. We’re NOT talking cosmetic products (for skin, hair, teeth). I’ve been such a volunteer myself, from the early 1990s onwards, both for cosmetic and for medical products: I did this in Europe, for several testing labs and brands. (You know, putting your money where your mouth is on animal testing!) See, there’s a basic giant flaw in “cruelty-free” labels given out by the Leaping Bunny campaign and suchlike. Black-and-white lumping together of all products is a flawed idea: especially when failing to distinguish between
- cosmetic products: personal care, skincare, hair care, plus decorative cosmetics i.e. makeup: all a matter of choice, for appearances, unnecessary / not for necessary for survival, and more or less for vanity
- medical products: necessary, and indeed not forgetting that this category includes medical products FOR OTHER ANIMALS TOO. (Some products otherwise considered “cosmetic” may count as “medical,” depending on the individual and condition at hand: ex. necessary for mental health reasons.)
So we’re back to the drawing-board: I’ll keep consulting the Leaping Bunny lists, but I’ll also keep asking companies directly. In the case of Weleda, they’ve taken the bold step (or given the finger to upstart relative newcomers to the ethical product game…) by putting their own principles and production methods and standards above others’ criteria, which may (see the EWG for another example) be as driven as much—or more—by kow-towing to consumer pressure, as by research and reason; open to fear-mongering and mass hysteria; through putting quantity (of consumers and of their money) above quality (and sense and truth). Think about this in political terms—as this is like anything else in life an issue that is either directly or indirectly (via consequences and repercussions) one that is political and social as well as ethical—that approach is not democratic: it is tyrannical, a dictatorship of the masses, idiocracy guided more or less discreetly by manipulation from above and outside (marketing, advertising, other strategic agencies).
Democracy isn’t just voting, a right to vote, one vote per person, and each vote counting equally. Look it up. Then go read John Stuart Mill, Karl Popper, and Isaiah Berlin. For starters.
I’ve said it before, I’m sure I’ll say it again: truth is not something that gets voted on.
I’m rather relieved: I’ve been a lifelong fan of Weleda, having had their stuff used on me even when a babe in arms. I’m a third-generation user. It would be good to be able to continue with them. Even though I disapprove and get sniffy about loyalty to old solid “heritage” brands, such as appear regularly in “Britain’s Most Trusted” lists and suchlike: it’s heartening to see that there’s a counter to Ponds, Johnson & Johnson, Olay, and the like.