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The beauty products from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners

· Cosmetics firm targets UK market ·

Lack of regulation puts users at risk

Ian Cobain and Adam Luck

Tuesday September 13, 2005

The Guardian

A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

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.

MPs on the Commons select health committee are to examine the regulatory system and may launch an investigation and question ministers about the need for immediate new controls. " I am sure that the committee will want to look at this," said Kevin Barron, its Labour chairman. " This is something everyone in society will be very concerned about."

Plastic surgeons are also concerned about the delay in introducing regulations to control the cosmetic treatments industry. Norman Waterhouse, a former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: " I am surprised that we are taking the lead from the European commission, because this is bound to delay action on this important area which is increasingly a matter for concern. It seems like a bit of a cop out to me."

It is unclear whether any of the " aesthetic fillers" such as collagen available in the UK or on the internet are supplied by the company, which cannot be identified for legal reasons. It is also unclear whether collagen made from prisoners' skin is in the research stage or is 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.

Lähde: The Guardian

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