India Bans Animal Tests on Cosmetic Products

June 28, 2013

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Good news for guinea pigs! Just hours ago, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) ordered a ban on the testing of cosmetic products or ingredients to cosmetic products on non-human animals. This comes on the heels on similar phase outs commencing in the European Union and Israel.

As countries like India and China continue to build robust and diversified economies, this kind of international standard becomes ever more important. Since Bill Clinton’s broad deregulation of international trade in the 1990s, we’ve seen a recurring pattern where corporations outsource production to countries where there are few labor or environmental laws. There has not been a similar pattern of biomedical outsourcing simply because the work is more “skilled” (i.e. you need to purchase more degrees to enter the guild system and they’re mostly for sale in the U.S.). However, as more international families with the means send their children to get educated in the U.S. while their home countries’ university systems are built up, we can expect the outsourcing trend to reach all sectors of the economy. This is to say that any rights won ultimately mean very little as long as they are constrained by national borders.

Source: ThinkProgress

What happened in India today is a great victory in the ongoing struggle against vivisection, yet it remains a single piece in a much greater puzzle. We need international solidarity around issues of human, animal and Earth rights such that there are no safe harbors for their violation. A key component of establishing such solidarity is ending the horrendous poverty, much of it an enduring colonial legacy, that forces people to take on jobs that they know to be exploitative and wrong. And if that wasn’t explicit enough, let me be clear that I am speaking of the expropriation of wealth that has become centralized in the coffers of the offensively rich and its summary redistribution amongst the impoverished.

Capitalism went global before humanity did and it’s taken us some time to catch up. But we can coordinate an international refusal to participate in its most brutal machinations. We can refuse to be pitted against each other and instead recognize that the system of organization under which we toil does not serve the cause of peace and ecological harmony. We can stand up for animals, the Earth and each other and we do it by standing against capitalism.


The Red Scare: Once More, With Feeling

June 5, 2011

Last night, I had the pleasure to go see a talk by Will Potter of Green is the New Red at a local vegan coffee shop. Potter is an investigative journalist who has made a name for himself by tirelessly exposing the post-9/11 erosion of civil liberties in this country. After the talk, we schmoozed for a little bit and I picked up a copy of his excellent new book in which he tells the stories of non-violent animal liberationists and environmentalists whom the FBI has aggressively targeted as “the number one domestic terrorist threat.” Using legislation quite literally written by pharmaceutical and agribusiness corporations, the federal government has applied “terrorism enhancements” to the prosecution of activists who are pushing the envelope of the green movement.

If you know much about the history of the FBI, you are already aware that they have existed more or less as a social movement busting organization since their inception as the General Intelligence Division in 1919. At that time, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer handed over half a million dollars to a young J. Edgar Hoover and told him to “fight radicalism.” We all know where that went. Historically, the U.S. government has debuted repressive techniques first on easy to marginalize minorities before casting a wider net. The Palmer Raids occurred in an era when hardworking Americans, many of them immigrants, were attempting to reorganize society in a way that they felt was more just and equitable. While we should avoid making direct equivalencies, there is a clear parallel between that historical moment and this one.

As Will Potter will tell you, the issue here is not whether you agree with the politics of vegan abolitionism or earth liberation. In the past few years, we have seen the slow emergence of a national conversation on what it means to be a sustainable society. The world is overwhelmed by war, violence, ecological degradation, alienation and indignity. Things cannot continue as they are if the human race is going to make it out of the 21st century. We need real systemic change, not the rebranding of the same ignominious policies that have impoverished the world.

As this consciousness shift coalesces into action, we find ourselves running up against the inflexibility of a system where the pursuit of profit has killed the drive for innovation. It’s species-wide maladaptivity and we’re borrowing to pay for the privilege. As humanity struggles to evolve in a rapidly changing landscape, entrenched corporate and political interests push back against us with everything they have. Why? Because if we grow into something greater than mere consumers, then the primitively accumulated wealth and privilege of the upper class will wither into irrelevance.

It’s great to argue over visions of a peaceful new world sprouting from the ashes of the empire. These are discussions that need to happen and I find it incredibly encouraging how much they abound these days, even in completely mainstream locales. But there’s something we need to push out of the way before any of us can begin laying cornerstones. If we approach this monumental task through the framework of consumerism, then we have already lost. We can’t afford to let a vested interest in stagnation sell our ideas back to us, de-fanged and castrated. Don’t let them tell you that spending a few more dollars a pound for “humane meat” is the answer to that sinking feeling in your gut when you first saw raw footage of a steer bleeding out on the kill floor of an Iowa abbatoir. You can’t buy revolution at the supermarket. You can’t vote it into office. You won’t read about it in articles from the vanguard party’s newspaper. There will be no hyperlinks to it on this blog. Revolution starts with taking responsibility for changing yourself from the inside out, not giving it up to someone else in the hopes that they’ll change the world to suit you. Real change isn’t safe but you’re not the only one who wants it. Look around. Talk to people. Find something you can lock arms over. And if you’re the last one out of the era of corporatist militarism, please make sure you turn out the lights. After all, we’re going green.


I Support More Troops Than You

May 30, 2011

Ah, Memorial Day. The day when Americans fire up the grill, slap an extra magnetic ribbon on the SUV and try to achieve that perfect zen state of drunkeness where they can actually sit through nine innings of professional baseball. Although hold on…I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting here beyond the day off work…oh, that’s right! Let’s not forget the true spirit of Memorial Day. The thing that holds our great country together in exhilirating national lockstep: celebrating the bad decisions made by young men who were either too ignorant to understand or too cynical to care about the consequences of their actions.

To quote Dave Trenga: this is the age faceless, nameless, endless war. The United States has been engaged in continuous military action since World War II, having bombed some 33 countries in that time. What does this have to do with veganism or agriculture? Well, as Mickey Zezima has been kindly reminding us all weekend, the United States military is the worst polluter on the planet. Unlike major corporations like BP or Exxon, the military doesn’t even have to maintain the pretense that it cares about the environment, much less make an effort to clean up the devastation it leaves in its wake.

Sustainability is a concern for us and a lot of our readers. We believe that, beyond supporting local agriculture, there is a bigger picture when it comes to the health and wholeness of the planet. If you regard yourself as an environmentalist or a supporter of animal rights, it is incumbent upon you to oppose war, not just symbolically but materially. What that opposition looks like is up to you but, if nothing else, just don’t work for them.

That means don’t join the service, don’t work for a reconstruction firm, don’t take their research grants, don’t build their machines and, if you’re clever enough to cook the books and get away with it, don’t pay the taxes that they use to keep the eternal war going.

If you have mourning to do today then by all means do it, and my sincere condolences to you. But just remember: we are all here on this planet together and what we do to the Earth, the animals and eachother, we ultimately do to ourselves. If humans are going to make it as a species, we need to make some radical changes in the way we allow our collective labor to be mobilized.

Here are a couple of good resources on the impact of war on nonhuman animals and the environment:

ANIMALS – The Hidden Victims of War

An useful overview of ecological fallout from specific 20th and 21st century wars as provided by, oddly enough, a Danish water treatment corporation.

If you want more detailed information, searching for the name of a war or conflict + “environmental impact” will usually bring up some good primary resources.