Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The EW....Factor

From Yahoo News

Cosmetics from executed
Chinese, paper says

Tue Sep 13, 5:03 AM ET

A British newspaper said that a Chinese cosmetics company was using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe.

Agents for the firm, which could not be named for legal reasons, have told would-be customers that skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot is being used to develop collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments, the Guardian newspaper said following an undercover investigation.

"The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is 'traditional' and nothing to 'make such a big fuss about'," the daily alleged.

It said doctors and politicians were worried about the dangers associated with people wanting to look better in such ways, because European regulations to control cosmetic treatments such as collagen are not expected for several years.

"Apart from the ethical concerns, there is also the potential risk of infection," the newspaper said.

Collagen is the fibrous protein constituent of skin, cartilage, bone, and other connective tissue.

The Guardian said it was unclear whether the anonymous company's treatments were already available in Britain or over the Internet.

It was also unable to say whether collagen made from prisoners' skin was in the research stage or was in production.

"However, the Guardian has learned that the company has exported collagen products to the UK in the past. An agent told customers it had also exported to the US and European countries, and that it was trying to develop fillers using tissue from aborted foetuses."

The newspaper said that when formally approached the agent denied the company was using skin harvested from executed prisoners.

At the same time, it said the same person had already admitted this to an undercover researcher.

It quoted that agent as saying: "A lot of the research is still carried out in the traditional manner using skin from the executed prisoner and aborted foetus." This material, he said, was being bought from "bio tech" companies based in the northern province of Heilongjiang, and was being developed elsewhere in China.

China executes more prisoners than the rest of the world combined, although the precise number put to death is not known.

One recent tally by a European anti-capital punishment group said that at least 5,000 of the near 5,500 known executions worldwide in 2004 took place in China.