Topics

Cosmetic Products from the Skin of Executed Prisoners?

The Guardian [London] reports that a Chinese cosmetic company is preparing a line of beauty products for sale in Europe that uses skin harvested from the corpses of executed prisoners. Consider these excerpts from the paper’s investigative report:
Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. 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”.

With European regulations to control cosmetic treatments such as collagen not expected for several years, doctors and politicians say the discovery highlights the dangers faced by the increasing number of Britons seeking to improve their looks. Apart from the ethical concerns, there is also the potential risk of infection.
More: When formally approached by the Guardian, the agent denied the company was using skin harvested from executed prisoners. However, he had already admitted it was doing precisely this during a number of conversations with a researcher posing as a Hong Kong businessman.
The agent told the researcher: “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.

He suggested that the use of skin and other tissues harvested from executed prisoners was not uncommon. “In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that western countries can make such a big fuss about this,” he said. Speaking from his office in northern China, he added: “The government has put some pressure on all the medical facilities to keep this type of work in low profile.”
Finally: Human rights activists in China have repeatedly claimed that organs have been harvested from the corpses of executed prisoners and sold to surgeons offering transplants to fee-paying foreigners.
For years, rumors have suggested that Chinese firms were peddling organs and other bodily materials from executed prisoners and human fetuses. This investigative report by one of Britain’s most influential newspapers will demand attention. But will it prompt action?
In some European nations, human collagen compounds derived from human fetuses have been used in the manufacture of cosmetics and medical products, including vaccines.
This represents a grotesque denial of human dignity and the treatment of human beings as factories for the manufacture of marketable goods — as things rather than persons.
Beyond this, it creates a profit motive for the execution of prisoners and the abortion of unborn humans.
What will it mean when these human materials are used in the manufacture of beauty products? What will it say when persons know the source of these products, and buy and use them anyway?
SOURCE: Ian Cobain and Adam Luck, “The Beauty Profucts from the Skin of Executed Chinese Prisoners,” The Guardian, September 13, 2005.