Big steps have been made regarding animal testing and animal cruelty for cosmetics in the last few years.
In March 2013 the EU put a complete ban on sales of new cosmetics developed through animal testing, which is exciting news for animal rights activists. But what about the killing of defenceless animals for their by-products?
Super model, animal rights activist and Sky Rainforest ambassador Lily Cole has recently brought to everyone’s attention the killing of sharks for their squalene.
Most people are aware sharks are killed for their fins, but did you know they are killed for their livers? Squalene is oil extracted from a shark’s liver.
It is being used in high end cosmetics and the demand for it is extremely high. It can be found in moisturisers, lipsticks and conditioners. It is mostly used in anti-ageing products due to its moisturising properties. Sharks use this substance to maintain buoyancy in the water. It is extracted by livering. This means sharks are caught and killed, their livers are cut out and their bodies are thrown back into the ocean.
Killing of sharks is still unrestricted throughout the world. Over 6 million sharks a year are killed for this oil and this number is rising. Squalene from gulper sharks can sell for £18000per ton. They are regarded as the best producers of quality squalene.
Sharks that live deeper in the ocean have larger amounts of squalene in their livers and this makes them extremely vulnerable to livering. There is a global demand for this oil and it’s only increasing. Many people have never heard of squalene and cosmetic manufacturers are under no obligation to declare its origin on their labels. Many well know cosmetic companies such as L’Oreal and Dove use it, but most are now trying to phase it out and use plant derived oils instead. Without clear labelling how can consumers make informed choices?
The key markets for squalene lie in the Far East. Japan accounts for over 40% of the world’s demand. It is one of the most expensive marine by products being sold today. Many sharks are now under threat of extinction and the angel shark is close to extinction.
Creative director of Selfridges Alannah Weston has come together with Lily to highlight this problem and Selfridges have now cleared their shelves of any products containing shark derived squalene. They made this announcement at this year’s Hay Festival. Miss Cole who is a brand activist for the body shop and Miss Weston are now calling on the EU to make all cosmetic companies who use squalene in their products to clearly put it on their labelling. Steps have been made on animal testing and cruelty but shouldn’t this include the needless killing of animals for their by-products?