Julia Stephenson: The Green Godesss

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Although make-up is no longer tested on animals in the UK, every year thousands of animals still die in European and American laboratories in horrific experiments for shampoo and make-up which is sold here.

We can halt this barbaric practice if we buy products signed up to the Humane Cosmetic Standard listed at www.buav.org/gocrueltyfree. The Body Shop, the Co-op and Liz Earle are resolutely cruelty-free.

I have protested against animal vivisection all my adult life, attending my first march after seeing undercover footage from Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratory. Contrary to the media emphasis on crazed gravediggers, the people on this march and subsequent others, were law-abiding concerned individuals, horrified at the licenced torture that goes on in laboratories in the UK and worldwide.

Fortunately many scientists agree that animal testing is plain bad science and have formed Europeans for Medical Progress to promote alternatives. Their director, Dr Ray Greek, insists cell and tissue culture, artificial organ systems, computer modelling and non-invasive human brain imaging offer more reliable data.

Imaging scanners can tell you more about what's going on in a human brain than by sawing open a marmoset's head. Testing on animals slows down medical progress because it tells us about animals, not people. And the results of animal studies can never guarantee the safety of human medicines. Aspirin is safe for humans, but can be fatal to cats; penicillin can kill guinea pigs; arsenic is dangerous for humans but not for rats, mice or sheep; insulin is safe for humans yet can produce deformities in mice, rabbits and chickens.

Ironically, we can't avoid television programmes about people being operated on (Cosmetic Surgery Live etc) while programmes depicting animal experiments are considered too horrific to stomach. This means experiments are performed away from public gaze. If the conditions are really as acceptable as supporters insist, why the secrecy? Let's open up these places to television and let the public know what goes on in their name.

www.buav.org; www.navs.org

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