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More than two dozen animal rights activists protested in front of the home of Harvard Corporation member and Gillette Company Chief Executive Officer Colman M. Mockler '52 Saturday, to demand that Gillette stop using animals to test its products.
While a growing number of cosmetic companies are using alternative methods of testing their products, Gillette has still refused to stop using animals for testing, the protesters said.
"It's because they're doing very well and they're making a lot of money," said Sammy Busby, national coordinator of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Gillette Campaign. "I don't think they're going to change until they see that their profits are being threatened," he said.
But local citizens who showed up at Mackler's house this weekend said that if they have their way, Gillette's profits will not be safe for long.
"I don't understand why they just don't modernize their facilities and get up with the times. They're using these crude techniques that go back 50 to 60 years," said Evelyn Kimber, a protester who lives in Boston.
Kimber said Gilette currently uses both the draize eye-irritancy test and the lethal-dose toxicity test in their laboratories, both of which were developed in the first half of the century. The draize test, involves immobilizing rabbits and dropping caustic substances into their eyes. In the lethal-dose toxicity test, poisonous substances are sprayed into the animals' faces.
Members of PETA said these methods of product testing are both cruel andoutdated. According to Busby, Gillette couldconvert to other testing methods at a minimalcost.
One alternative, explained Busby, is to use avegetable protein matrix that mimicks the responseof the human cornea. Another alternative is totest cosmetics on processed human skin patches,currently available on the market. Both methodsare also much cheaper than the outdatedanimal-testing methods, Busby added.
Revlon, Avon, Estee Lauder and Benneton haveswitched to these alternative methods in the faceof animal-rights protests.
"Any kind of procedure that can be accomplishedsuccessfully by using non-animal techniques shouldbe utilized. And every effort should be made to doso," said Stuart E. Wiles, Cambridge's recentlyappointed city official charged with monitoringthe treatment of laboratory animals. But Wilessaid he was not directly familiar with any ofPETA's anti-Gillette efforts.
After protesting in front of Mackler's Waylandresidence for almost two hours, waving placardsand chanting anti-Gillette slogans, thedemonstrators moved to the nearby Wayland ShoppingCenter to elicit public support. They carriedsigns that read "The Hidden Ingredient in GilletteProducts is Suffering," and "Colman Mockler:Wayland Resident Stop Burning and Blinding andPoisoning Rabbits."
Kimber said she was excited that many of thelocal residents stopped or signalled to expresstheir support for PETA's efforts.
"People drove by and honked and gave thethumbs-up out of their windows," she said. "It wasnice to see that support in his own community."
"Our vigil was just one prong in a many-prongedapproach to get Mr. Mockler to pay attention tothis very serious issue," said Kimber. "We havebeen approaching him for four to five years now.He has been asked many times to have meetings withus, but he has never responded."
For the last three years, PETA members havebrought before Gillette's stockholders areferendum demanding that the company disclose thefacts surrounding its animal testing procedures.But Mockler successfully campaigned for thestockholders to vote "no" on the resolution allthree years, Kimber said.
Busby said there was a strong chance thatmembers of PETA will also protest at the nextCorporation meeting.
Mockler could not be reached for comment
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