Thousands of bears in Asia are trapped on bear farms, where their bile is routinely and painfully extracted for medicinal use. These bears are typically kept within tiny cages, and both the close confinement and bile extraction clearly cause the animals distress. Bears on these farms are often forced to endure these conditions for 10 years or longer.
The vast majority of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formulas contain no bear bile, and viable herbal alternatives exist for all TCM formulas that do contain bear bile. Based on these alternative options and the cruelty involved in bear farming, many notable TCM scholars from around the world have indicated their opposition to the use of bear bile in TCM.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has recently developed a specialist webpage for US consumers of TCM, which should help them in determining whether the TCM products that they buy are produced by Chinese companies involved with bear farming. Many TCM manufacturers in China produce bear bile products as a small percentage of their product lines for the domestic Chinese market, and these companies sometimes also sell a range of other (non-bear bile) products within US markets.
By giving Chinese TCM manufacturers an opportunity to hear concerns about bear farming from Western customers, WSPA hopes to encourage these companies to think differently about bear farming. In response to consumer concerns, Chinese TCM firms that do not produce bear bile medicines may publicly signal their opposition to bear farming, and some that currently do produce bear bile medicines may stop doing so. WSPA has asked that people who do not use TCM products refrain from engaging in this action as the campaign hinges on dialogue between producers and customers of TCM. (Non-TCM users can find out more about bear farming here.)
WSPA’s specialist webpage allows TCM users to send pre-written, customizable e-letters to US retailers of Chinese-made TCM products, asking them if their Chinese suppliers produce any bear bile products. These e-letters include a link that the retailers can use to obtain a template letter (in English or Chinese), which should assist them in asking their Chinese suppliers about their bear bile policies. Consumers and practitioners who send e-letters will be able to post retailers’ responses to the webpage. WSPA plans to acknowledge on its website those US retailers who agree to stop selling medicines produced by companies that manufacture bear bile medicines, and it will also include a list of Chinese companies that pledge to stop producing these products or claim to have never done so.
By participating in the new campaign, US purchasers of TCM products can easily and freely contribute to the cause of ending the suffering of the many bears trapped on bear farms.
(Full article available here)