Ray-Bans to face the glare of animal groups

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The Independent Online
BAUSCH & LOMB, the giant US group, is bracing itself for a campaign by animal rights groups for a worldwide boycott of its most famous product, Ray-Ban sunglasses.

The boycott is aimed at stopping the trade in monkeys by Bausch & Lomb subsidiary Charles River, which sells dollars 100m ( pounds 66m) worth of laboratory animals a year to medical companies, government research bodies and universities. Charles River's European subsidiary, Shamrock, sells 2,000 monkeys a year, costing up to pounds 1,000 each, within Europe.

A large push in the campaign is expected to start following the World Day for Laboratory Animals next Saturday. Among the main targets of the anti-vivisection groups will be celebrities who are known to support animal rights issues, such as Hollywood stars Madonna and Jack Nicholson who are rarely seen in public without their dark sunglasses. They will be pressurised to stop wearing Ray-Bans and to say that they will not wear them until Bausch & Lomb stops supplying laboratory animals.

The campaign is currently gaining ground in the US and Australia. It has yet to be imported to the UK, though the British Union Against Vivisection has highlighted the involvement of Charles River in the animal-testing business as part of its protest against the international trade in primates. 'So far, our campaign has been targeting the British Government, the European Community and other governmental groups,' said Steve McIvor of BUAV. 'But widening the campaign is something we may do in future.'

Bausch & Lomb says a campaign against Ray-Bans will have little impact on the company and will not stop Charles River supplying primates for medical research. However, pressure to stop the capture of wild monkeys for experiments has already led to changes within Bausch & Lomb. Shamrock stopped trading in wild animals early this year. Charles River will follow suit after December, only supplying animals specifically bred for medical testing. But it argues that testing on primates is essential for medical research and has helped in the development of treatments for such diseases as cancer and polio.

(Photograph omitted)

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