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.

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1000+ Italian Activists Liberate Beagle Puppies in Daylight Raid

April 30, 2012

On April 28th, World Day for Animals in Laboratories, Italian animal liberation activists staged a daylight raid of the Green Hill Breeders complex in Northern Italy, freeing 25 to 40 beagles in the process.  All but one of the dogs are puppies.  Green Hill, owned by Marshall Farms Inc., is one of the largest European breeding facilities for nonhuman animals bred for vivisection.  Green Hill, which sells “purpose bred” dogs for up to $1,200, keeps 2,500 dogs on site at any given time and harbors ambitions of expanding its facilities to contain 5,000.  Green Hill breeds dogs to order for customers like Huntingdon Life Sciences, who can pay for extra “features,” like dogs with their vocal chords removed so they cannot scream when experimented upon.

See video of the raid here.

Since the closing of Italy’s other laboratory dog breeding facility, Italian activists have gone hard after Green Hill.  The campaign has employed a diverse array of tactics, ranging from letter writing and petitions to legal challenges and public demonstrations.  Daylight raids like the one that occurred on Saturday are not in themselves unprecedented, but the sheer size of this one is a definite first.  On the heels of this action, hackers acting under the umbrella of Anonymous have begun to take down and subvert websites owned by companies “who derive profit from the blood and the suffering of animals,” using the hashtags #OpItaly, #OpSaveAnimals and #OpGreenRights.

Activists scale the barbed wire fence surrounding Green Hill Breeders

It remains to be seen how the Italian government will respond to this escalation in the grass roots campaign against vivisection.  12 individuals were arrested at the raid on Saturday but it’s not yet clear how keen Italy is on following the United States’ suit on applying terrorism enhancements to a situation like this.  Some European states have tended to tolerate occasional daylight raids as long as they don’t occur too frequently or stray too far from the symbolic.  Four dogs would have been one thing, but forty?  When activists in England began using open raids to great effect during the 1980s, the state began to apply “conspiracy to burgle” charges to as many activists as possible in order to drain energy and funds from the movement (chronicled in Against All Odds).

An interior view of Green Hill’s kennels

It will be interesting to see how the campaign against Green Hill continues to play out.  The story has only just begun to escape Italian news services and into international social media, blogs and online petition sites (1, 2).  Wider coverage will not be far behind and this bodes poorly for a company like Green Hill.  The discussion of animal rights as they pertain to food politics has been forced into the mainstream of late, but vivisection is an industry with a history of desperate resistance to public visibility.  The brazenness of this raid is captivating and the images that have come out so far are profoundly moving.  Perhaps we will be seeing more of these daylight raids moving forward, particularly given how easy it has become to organize a flash mob using social media.  It is to be hoped that Italian animal liberationists will be able to both weather the state’s response to their act of mass conscience and to leverage the ensuing global attention to close down Green Hill once and for all.  Whatever happens next, I’m pretty sure it’s already worth it.