A Chinese cosmetics company has been using skin taken from the bodies of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, a London newspaper reported.
An agent for the company informed customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they had been shot.
The agent said some of the company‘s products have been exported to Britain, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts was “traditional" and nothing to “make such a big fuss about,“ the Guardian reported
In addition to ethical concerns, there is the potential risk of infection from the harvested skin products.
The company was not identified by name for legal reasons and it is unclear whether collagen made from the skin of prisoners was in the research stage or in actual production.
“A lot of the research is still carried out in the traditional manner using skin from the executed prisoners and aborted fetus," the agent was quoted as saying. The material, he said, was being bought from “biotech" companies based in Heilongjiang Province and was being developed elsewhere in China.
He suggested that the use of skin and other tissues harvested from executed prisoners was not uncommon. “In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that Western countries can make such a big fuss about this," he said.
In the past, human rights groups have charged that China was using organs harvested from executed prisoners for medical transplants both domestically and internationally. China executed about 3,400 prisoners last year, according to Amnesty International.