Animal-tested cosmetics banned throughout the EU

The 11th March 2013 saw the long fought for ban on the sale of cosmetics come into action. This includes all personal-care products. What’s more it does not matter where in the world the testing takes  place, no animal-tested cosmetic item or ingredients can be sold within the European Union (EU). Any tests that were being carried out have now been abandoned.

This ban has had a global effect: Even products that are tested and made outside the EU are now prohibited from our shelves. Prior to this ban, animal-testing for cosmetic purposes was illegal within the EU since 2009. However brands that condoned animal-testing still littered EU shelves. This includes brands such as L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, just to name a few.

It has taken over 20 years for this ban to come into action. Not only does this prevent further force-feeding and inhalation of chemicals that eventually leads to bleeding from every orifice.  Also hundreds of thousands of rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats have been rescued from laboratories.

One of the oldest arguments against animal testing was, what can non-human animal’s reaction to chemicals tell us about human reaction? After all our genetic makeup is hugely different. For instance rabbits usually show stronger reactions to chemicals in the eyes than humans do.

Well in the past few years there has been much investment in non-animal testing methods. Apparently, these are more advanced. This begs the question as to why these were not common practice sooner once these methods became available. Surprisingly the answer is not because they are more expensive. The non-animal testing methods are actually less expensive! These non-animal testing methods are thanks to donated human tissue. This offers more protection to humans since this will be a much more reliable indicator of any chemical or adverse effects. Manufactures can test on human tissue grown in the laboratory and use human skin cultures. Not only do these types of tests save animals from enduring a life of pain and suffering, they are also more accurate, produce results in less time and they cost less, which helps to keep consumer costs down too, so we hope. With this ban in action more companies will be forced to use these more ethical methods.

One example of these cutting-edge techniques includes in vitro – test tube – testing methods. Such as 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Photoxicity Assay. This gauges the potential toxicity of chemicals when they come into contact with sunlight, in order to assess sunlight-induced skin irritation.

A similar ban has been implemented in Israel and one is being considered in India. So the work isn’t over yet, as next on the list is a global ban.

See more at:
www.buav.org
www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

Gay Marriage: A Fight Over Language and Religion

The internet is increasing with pages, campaigns and groups being made to support of the legalisation of gay marriage. This is to replace Civil Partnership which allows homosexual couples to have their relationship legally recognised, thanks to the Civil Partnership Act 2004. However the term “Civil Partnership” has developed an inferior status in comparison with the heterosexual “Civil Marriage”, but, for those who are not religious, Civil Partnership is synonymous with Gay Marriage. I will explain.

The majority of the differences between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage actually allow the former additional choice in how the wedding is conducted, while “Marriage” is more constricted by institutional laws. For instance, the registration certificate does not need to be signed at the wedding and verbal exchange is not essential. This means a Civil Partnership wedding can be held in private and conducted in a manner that allows the couple to use originality and creativity which otherwise would not be possible.

The issue is religion. Civil Partnerships are prohibited to contain religious references; this includes readings, music and the premise in which it takes place. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 states “no religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document.” Consequently, Civil Partnerships are not recognised by the Church of England at this present time. This goes to show that even now, in a world dominated by science and technology the Church still has more power over society. Although rather than viewing this as a constriction to our freedom and rights, this can be seen as being free from the institution of the Church; so once again, the Civil Partnership wedding becomes less institutionalised and more personal. If one wishes to mention divinity in their wedding, it can be done with the mind, the heart and in prayer before and after the wedding. This shows real dedication and spirituality.

In spite of this current state of affairs “Partnership” when used in “Civil Partnership” is actually a religious term. This dates from Old English.

‘Partnership’ = ‘partner’ + ‘ship’

Since Old English ‘ship’ at the end of a word (suffix) means to ‘create’ or ‘ordain’ (‘ordain’ – to invest with holy meaning). In the context of a wedding the meaning is obviously ‘ordain’ as this is what the Civil Partnership registrar does. Therefore religious connotations are inherent in the meaning! So not only is it discrimination that gay couples cannot have an openly religious wedding ceremony, it is also a total contradiction.

However, come the end of the wedding the couple are not pronounced ‘husband and husband’ or ‘wife and wife’; instead the couple are pronounced ‘Civil Partners’. This assumes the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ belong solely to the concept of heterosexual marriage, but where is the evidence for this? Also Language continuously changes: Dictionaries do not dictate the language we use, it is the language that we use which is recorded in dictionaries. For instance look at how the meaning of ‘gay’ has changed over the years! Therefore there is no reason why the terms husband and wife should not be officially used by homosexual couples. Furthermore there is nothing to stop “Civil Partners” referring to their spouse as husband/wife. Nevertheless there is an exchange of names, and change of title for lesbian couples.

What it boils down to is allowing homosexual couples to have overtly religious ceremonies and to officially use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. So, it may help if we are specific in our demands when campaigning to the authorities to recognise LGB rights. Until the government make those bureaucratic adjustments, in reality non-religious homosexual couples do indeed marry, it just comes under a different name. For religious couples we can make it religious ourselves and use the title of our choice.

I would love to hear readers views on this.

WHY PEOPLE FEAR THE INTRODUCTION OF GAY MARRIAGE

Understanding NOM/DOMA

This takes a look at the reasons why people do not feel comfortable supporting gay marriage, and while taking these into account I intend to expand and add to your views.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is against the idea of legalising gay marriage in the view that…

“Oppose any effort that would eliminate DOMA and its protections for state marriage laws all across the country.
Please drop the attack on DOMA and instead defend the rights of states to protect marriage yas the union of a husband and wife. Thank you for protecting DOMA!”

(National Organization for Marriage, 2011)

In their petition letter NOM are asking presidents to “protect marriage”. This implies these people view marriage as a commodity or as a possession which belongs only to heterosexuals. This then alludes to the idea that the marriage ritual forms part of the heterosexual identity since they wish for it to remain exclusive to them. However, a flaw in this line of thought is that some heterosexual couples even those who have been together for over a decade choose not to marry and yet they are in a heterosexual relationship and friends and acquaintances would be happy in the acknowledgment of this sexual preference, although this scenario is rather less common as opposed to long term partners who do marry. Thus marriage, for some, must be part of their sexual identity – it is their right as a heterosexual to be permitted to partake in this particular ritual.

What is the reasoning that only they are permitted? Well, the most common reasons people marry are that they choose to, a sign of their love one other, want a sign of their commitment to one another, want to announce their feelings to God (I use this term to refer to all figures of Divinity) or they wish to bring a child into the world and feel this would provide a more secure environment. All of these remain the same in Gay Marriage. However, the penultimate statement is slightly controversial, but this can easily be put to rest. This is because not all married heterosexual couples are religious and thus may not have a religious ceremony; so from this point on religion is not an issue. Moreover marriage is never a prerequisite for a stable family environment. I have heard the Holy Bible being used as an excuse not to tolerate homosexuals – apparently it’s just wrong, period. However marriage is an act – and linguistically speaking it is a ritual consisting of a series of speech acts – which is a sign of commitment and love between two people. Thus as this is a reason for some of the prejudice beliefs against gay marriage, surely then atheists should also not be allowed to legally marry.

More specifically many hold prejudice because they feel that homosexuality is unnatural. This is because the reason males and females are [meant to be] attracted to one another is because it is inherent in all of humanity that the imperative to reproduce, after all that is nature and that is what we are meant to do, supposedly. “We’re meant to have children so homosexuality is not natural” – is the crux of the argument. But sex can/is no longer be scrutinized in terms of functionality. Humans have sex for pleasure which is completely devoid of the function of reproduction. Therefore then gay sex cannot be judged in terms of functionality either. It is possible then that humanity has another function in this world other than to breed. If we did not then surely by now we would be like the male octopus that dies after impregnating a female octopus. Therefore using the “what’s natural” argument, whereby the logical premise would be that of ‘natural selection’ there must be further functions for humanity.

Stewardship is one possibility – which is very fitting with Christendom, being a parental figure to those in need who are already struggling on this planet – whether that be in adoption, bringing up and healing an abused child, saving someone’s life, dedication to charitable work. Example figures include Mother Teresa, Orang-utan Lady. These people helped our world to thrive without adding to the human population – rather they added quality of life to those alive then and now.

Furthermore there are plenty of heterosexual couples out there who do not have children out of choice. In such a situation what is the difference between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple? Both couples signify two loving married people whom of which have not propagated the species.

Poison Ivory

Poison Ivory

Walking relics from the prehistoric age
Have stumbled into a cage
Bringing their adornments of finery
Yet no amount of fact works as bribery
As each metal sheath is inscribed
With Faith, Folklore and failed education
All in the era of the postmodern
These share nothing in common
But put these together
And a lump of dead protein
Becomes a valuable treasure

Each sheath is a human
Who is under a manufactured illusion
The words of their delusion
Faith, Folklore and failed education
Are branded into the body
And scorched into the tongue and eyes

Now there is a postmodern potion
A poison that is precise
That will be used
In dead protein
To rid of the obscene
Those who are infected with
Faith, Folklore and failed education

Infection to fight infection.

© Jenna Leanne Grabey 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Global Poverty Project

The Global Poverty Project Arrives in Cambridge

By Jenna Grabey

(Taken from www.apex-magazine.co.uk/2010/08/global-poverty-project/)

The global presentation, 1.4 Billion Reasons, was delivered by development advocate and student Hugh Evans at the Corn Exchange. He believes we can end poverty in our lifetime. The Global Poverty Project works to instil a connection in people so we can strive to eradicate the poverty that is destroying so many people in our world. They do this by communicating why poverty persists, what has been done and what needs to be done. Professor Christopher Dobson, Master of St John’s College, welcomed us and stated, “Impact has already been felt around the world” from this student led campaign, and that, “poverty is the modern form of slavery”.

Poverty is living on less than $1.25 per day. Many believe it is cheaper to live in developing countries, but research shows otherwise. In Indonesia this would buy 2 bowls of rice with vegetables with 10 cents left over to pay for bills, school, medicine and water. Education is crucial; without educated people the government will not be made to account for their actions. A generic look at poverty shows it is decreasing, however in Sub-Suharan Africa and Asia there has been an increase in poverty since 1981.

Ideas about how to eradicate poverty from the audience included importing only ethical goods. Valuing what is important – food not fast cars and wasting less food; as we found out later the UK throws away £10 billion per year.
The goals of the Global Poverty Project are to eradicate hunger – communities have elevated from hunger by farming their land. 99% of women who die during childbirth lived in the developing world, and so another goal is to improve maternal health. If London escaped from Cholera then developing countries can too, giving rise to combating disease. Progress is being made despite the collapsed medical infrastructure of developing countries, especially with HIV in Zimbabwe. Hairdressers are being trained as HIV educators funded by the department of international development. Therefore when people visit the hairdressers they will not only get the latest hairstyle, but will also be educated on HIV prevention. The feature film that was intermittently played throughout showed Gordon Brown stating there had been a debt relief of $100 billion which has gone towards vaccinations and building schools. The Global Poverty Project hopes to continue this goal of establishing global partnership for development until this has been achieved.

The barriers to ending poverty are many, but to name one – corruption. Teodorin Oblang who lives in a $21,000,000 mansion yet earns just over $2000 per month, as he treats oil revenues like his own property. This is one of too many examples of money from corrupt sources. Global income has tripled in recent years, whereas poverty has only halved. To name another – lack of resources. Natural resources are rapidly depleting, but there is aid – good aid and bad aid. Bad aid happened during the Tsunami when vast amounts of clothes were sent but they had no clean water, however good aid is aid that helps development for the long-term.

This matters to us because conflict, climate change and disease affect the whole world. If you would like to help this cause, there are many ways to get involved such as volunteer work where you can have an impact working in Cambridge, joining panel debates and buying fairtrade products. There may be a lot of statistics here, but as Hugh said, “these statistics have a human face”.

For more information on the project, or volunteering, visit:

www.globalpovertyproject.com or some of their partners at:
www.humanitariancentre.org
www.ewb-uk.org
www.cuamnesty.org.uk

Book Review: Weirdo.Mosher.Freak

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak. By Catherine Smyth

(Taken from www.apex-magazine.co.uk/2011/03/weirdo-mosher-freak/)
By Jenna L. Grabey

(If only they’d stopped at name calling) by Catherine Smyth

This narrative account on the murder of Sophie Lancaster, the goth girl who was killed for the way she and her boyfriend dressed, gave me shivers from start to finish.

The S.O.P.H.I.E campaign was established to teach people to tolerate subcultures and campaign to extend the UK hate crime legislation to include ‘alternative subcultures’.

The book opens by telling the reader that if it weren’t for this book, newspaper articles and court papers would be the only literature on this horrific event. This is also Smyth’s attempt to find the truth of what happened that night: why three ambulances were called, why two went to the wrong place and why a journey that takes two minutes by car took an ambulance 14 minutes.

It is written by a journalist who became personally involved in the S.O.P.H.I.E campaign through her work. This ensures an emotive tone and prevents the telling from being too formal, however, at times, it does make you wonder how different the book would have been if told from another perspective.

Smyth provides plenty of background information, such as education, personality and anecdotes, on the attackers, defendants and victims, as well as the history of the town and its racist, violent and intolerant past stemming from the 70s.

The re-telling begins with Smyth receiving a phone call about an incident in Bacup Park; she goes on to describe how she discovered the attack of Sophie and Rob. We then go back in time to the night of the attack, where Smyth describes the unfolding of events beginning with Sophie and Rob visiting a friend through to the brutal primordial attack. From here the story is told in chronological order. We hear how Sophie’s death led to an accumulation of concerts, film festivals and peace marches in her honour.

Smyth describes how one of her most difficult interviews in her long journalistic career was with Sylvia Lancaster, Sophie’s mother. As Smyth became more personally involved, she describes Sophie’s funeral which she attended. This is followed by an account of the court trials including the attackers’ appeals for shorter sentences. Reliving the attack for ourselves we read the narrative transcript, of the phone calls made to the ambulance service, including background noises and voices.

Overall, it is amazing to find how one death caused such a ripple throughout the alternative community and sparked such a proliferation of fund-raising events and rightly so!

To find out more about the S.O.P.H.I.E campaign visit http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com.

If you eat fish then read this!

Our seas are under immense pressure: too many fish are being taken out, too much rubbish is being thrown in and too little is being done to protect our precious marine wildlife and vital fish stocks. We are losing biodiversity at a rate never witnessed before at huge cost to ourselves. If our oceans are to cope with what the future we need to act now. We are all connected to the sea in ways we may not realise, and the health of our seas is key to a rich and productive future.

Marine Conservation Society

Please send this letter to 1 or both of the addresses listed below. Parts in italics need amending. 

Your Name
Address line 1
Address line 2
Address line 3
Address line 4 

Jonathan Shaw, MP
Minister for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs
Defra
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

10th July 2012

Dear Mr Shaw,

UK Marine & Coastal Access Act 2009

In November 2009 the Marine and Coastal Access Act was passed and was said to be in full operation by the end of 2012. However the government has announced delay in the implementation of this Act. Your reticence is killing and destroying marine life as we know it.

If overexploitation of the seas continues there will come a time when there are no fish left to fish for. The fishing industry will collapse and the rate of unemployment will once again rise. You can’t generate a stock of fish from nothing, but you can when you have something to work with, which there is at present but not in the foreseeable future. In authorising the 127 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) within the United Kingdom, you will allow the fish population time to breed so it can actually self-sustain. The longer you delay the harder it will be to overcome the damage to the marine habitat, fish population and economy.

The survival of the United Kingdom’s marine environment is in your hands. Buying MCS certified fish produce certainly helps the situation, however if our sees are continually over fished then this will not be enough.

Permitting MCZs is in the best interest for you, the fishing industry and consumers. This is because the authorisation of MCZs is an investment for all of the above. It is an investment that will allow marine wildlife to restore itself which will create a secure economy for the future and thus generate more money than at present.

There are ways to develop sustainability while keeping industries afloat. This involves using fishing methods that cause minimal to no damage to the ocean and have the lowest risk of bycatch. Using electrified ticklers on beam trawls rather than chain ticklers, since chain ticklers have a huge bycatch rate, and needlessly kill non-target species which are imperative for the marine ecosystem to stay alive. The same applies to trawling and dredging and pelagic long-lining. This has been known since the 14th Century so is it not rather primitive that such methods are still in common use? More up-to-date methods are bottom long-lining, handlining, trolling, pots and traps, drift nets with ‘pingers’, farmed mussels and dive-caught seafood (shellfish, lobster).

Efficient economy is vital and growth is essential for economy. Therefore my proposition is: Authorise the 127 proposed MCZs and enforce the use of sustainable fishing methods. This allows marine wildlife to grow as you cannot reap what you have not sown, and this will ensure a maintainable future. This makes certain our escape from the annihilation of the fishing industry.

I am not advocating the idea that fishing should stop. Rather I am promoting the idea that current fishing methods are changed. This way the fishing industry will survive and thrive.

I am not some vegan hippy that has got on their high horse about this rather I am a fish eating British citizen with an occupation unrelated to the fishing industry; that cares for the environment and its future.

Yours Sincerely,

Your Name

Defra’s Marine Biodiversity team
Zone 1/05,
Temple Quay House,
2 The Square,
Temple Quay,
Bristol
BS1 6EB

Jonathan Shaw, MP
Minister for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs
Defra
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR