Bears’ plight highlighted in row over Chinese medicines firm
A STORM of criticism in China over a planned stock market listing by a company that sells treatments made with bear bile has highlighted the increasingly affluent country’s changing attitudes toward the environment.
Dozens of celebrities have signed a petition to the China Securities Regulatory Commission urging it to withhold approval for the initial public offering by Guizhentang, a Chinese medicines maker. The company wants to list in Shenzhen.
Hundreds of thousands of comments on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, have criticised the company for extracting bile from bears.
Animal rights groups say the practice of bear bile farming is cruel because the animals are confined to small cages and their bile extracted via catheters inserted into their gall bladders.
They also say that antibiotics used to counter chronic infections from the practice, and other contaminants in the bile, pose a hazard to human health.
A photo on the front page of the state-run newspaper China Business News yesterday showed a satirical photo montage of a caged bear, its muzzle bloodied, with a picture of the head of the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicines, Fang Shuting, who has been quoted as saying that bears are “very comfortable” while the bile is extracted.
Mr Fang said China has 68 licensed bear farms with more than 10,000 bears in total. The bile can cost up to 4,000 yuan (about £400) a kg.
The main active ingredient is ursodeoxycholic acid, thought to act as an anti-inflammatory and is used to treat gall stones and liver ailments. It is mainly taken from the Asiatic Black Bear, which is a protected but not endangered species in China.
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