years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Animals Asia hosts Chinese Medicine congress delegates
Animals Asia and the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine were extremely proud to host a reception at the House of Commons on Thursday, 1 September, kindly sponsored by Mr Neil Parish MP.
The reception brought together key Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners from around the world ahead of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine’s Congress at the Hall of Westminster. It was our chance to meet key individuals and introduce our work to end the trade in bear bile, a substance cruelly taken from bears and prescribed by some TCM practitioners.
Mr Neil Parish MP, a good friend and supporter of Animals Asia kindly welcomed everyone to the House of Commons and called on all present to support us in our quest to end the barbaric bear bile trade. Dr Jill Robinson followed with warm wishes and thanks to the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and in particular to Lixin Huang, President of ACTCM and the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), for giving Animals Asia the opportunity to be part of this year’s congress by hosting a panel on “The impact TCM has on wildlife” and for their wonderful support of our work.
Neill Parish MP (third from left), with Jill Robinson and congress delegates at the House of Commons reception.
Jill and the team were incredibly pleased to hear Dr Shen, President of Traditional Chinese Medicine UK and President Lixin Huang of ACTCM also add their support for our work and call on the TCM community to take responsibility for the impact they are having on the natural resources and stop prescribing endangered species.
We were further delighted when Dr Mei, vice Chairman of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies also expressed his full support, calling on all those present to attend the panel the following day. Dr Mei was particularly forthright in his concern for the practice of bear farming and pledged his full support towards ending it during the reception.
Other guests were equally forthright such as the Vice President of the European Foundation of TCM (Spain), Ramon Maria Calduch who later sent us a quote:
“Traditional Chinese Medicine has adapted, from its beginning, to the social reality in every moment, keeping its characteristic philosophy in harmony with the environment. Currently, its acceptance by the people makes it increasingly practiced in more places around the world, TCM practitioners and experts should find the way to replace the use of animal products, its over-exploitation (such as the bear farming) leads to break the harmony that is the philosophical basis of TCM. This has been proved possible in scientific research and therefore we should support the work of Animals Asia Foundation towards correcting the negative and cruel reality, lobbying governments to bring an end to bear farming. ”
The reception guests were silent when our Animals Asia film, “Moon bear rescue — A decade on” was shown and this emotional film depicting the treatment of bears in the bear bile trade was followed by more heads of the TCM community expressing their support. Angela Ying Tu, President of the National Federation of Chinese TCM Organizations, U.S.A. sent us the following message:
“The video that you played brought tears to my eyes. I could not understand the mentality that can bring people to such cruelty and greed. To use Chinese medicine as one of the excuses to torture and kill bears or any other animals is against the basic principle of Chinese medicine, which stresses that the well-being of mankind depends on maintaining the harmony within our own body, and maintaining the harmony between man and the universe. Animals are our co-habitants of the Earth, and their well-being sustains ours. Killing them to treat human diseases is not only inhumane, but in many ways will affect the environments that are so essential to the health and development of mankind.
Thank you again for bringing the plight of the Asiatic bears to the attention of the world. I wish you all the best and success in your endeavors.”
The level of support shown during this reception was unexpected and really gives us hope that together we can reduce the demand for bear bile and ultimately end this barbaric trade.
8th Congress of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS)
2 September: Attendees at the 8th Congress of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (“Traditional Chinese Medicine Benefits Human Health”) included TM practitioners and experts from across the world, with approximately 600 delegates in attendance.
The AACTM and Animals Asia hosted a panel at the conference titled “TCM and Endangered Species Protection.”
Congress speakers and presentations included:
Comparative Studies on Bear Bile and Coptis — Dr Feng Yibin PhD
Dr Feng Yibin PhD of the University of Hong Kong presents at the Congress of the WFCMS.
Toby Zhang, Animals Asia's Director of External Affairs, China presents his paper “Healing without Harm”.
Healing without Harm — Ending Bear Farming in China and Vietnam — Xiaohai Toby Zhang
Sustainable Health, Environmental Harmony: The Ongoing Collaboration Between TCM and Environmental Conservation — Lixin Huang 保健与环境的可持续性和谐：中医与环境保护的持续合作
The Current State, Protection and Utilization of Traditional Chinese Medicine Resources in the Three Gorges Area of Yangtze River – Gan Lin Yu
长江三峡地区中药资源现状与保护利用 — 余甘霖
Can our offspring have Chinese herbal medicines to take—the Current Situation about Endangered Medicinal Plants in China and our strategies –Ping Liu
Mention of the theme of endangered species protection was also made by Chairwoman She Jing in the opening and closing remarks at the plenary sessions of the Congress, and the focus of the WFCMS 9th Congress in 2012 will be on promoting harmony between nature and people.
Dr Feng Yibin summarized his paper as follows: In the past years, my research team has systemically and comparatively studied substitutes for bear bile with Mr. Pong Ding Yuen, 塜 family and the Hong Kong Government match-funding.
There are 4 substitutes for bear bile including other animal bile substitutes, pure chemical substitutes from bear bile, artificial bear bile made by other animal bile and plant substitutes. So far, plant substitutes were suggested in literature without scientific research, while some animal substitutes were simply studied. So, it is necessary for us to design systematic, serious and comparative research to get convincing data.
As animal substitutes will be found contradictory to the position of World Animal Protection sooner or later, the final choice will be to use plants to substitute bear bile. It is believed that research on the possibility of replacing bear bile by herbs is highly potential for achieving the purpose of protecting animals at large, not only bears.
However, some people in mainland China, including Government officesr and ordinary people insist that no matter how close those substitutes can be, it is still not as good as the real thing - the real thing is seen as the best means, the real one is seen as most effective.
Completely replacing the real one in chemical compositions is really difficult, but it is possible and closer to the reality to prove that the pharmacological effects of the substitute are better than those of the real one.
Our research demonstrated that some animal bile and coptis have better effects than bear bile in same diseases-spectra in cell and animal models. In addition, these animal bile and coptis are under the same category of bear bile in Chinese Medicines, thus we suggest these substitutes for bear bile based on the traditional reasons.
Yibin Feng, PhD
Associate Professor, Assistant Director (Education)
School of Chinese Medicine
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
The University of Hong Kong
Lixin Huang, American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) stressed in her presentation that, in collaboration with Animals Asia, this is the first time in a World Federation International Congress that we have had a panel on endangered species and a theme that is now in the subject of the WFCMS.
Lixin emphasized that the key lessons were that the philosophies of TCM and Environmental conservation are compatible and both promote harmony, balance, interrelationship between humans and nature, prevention, longevity.
She added, in clear reference to bear farming, that, “the legitimate practice of Chinese medicine has been confused with commercial interests selling folk remedies and cosmetics, as well as the traffic of endangered species. These are not saving people's lives but selling fancy gifts and don't have much to do with medical practice at all.”
And, finally, in what was clearly the quote of the day, Lixin stated:
“Concerning the old belief that endangered species will be useful for health or longevity — if animals suffer or die, how can they benefit people's health? We do not need to follow old beliefs or traditions since they don't support the benefit of healthy wildlife and healthy planet. To preserve resources for years to come, as well as the international reputation of Chinese medicine, we must continue collaboration with environmental conservation initiatives and adopt practices that prioritise sustainability and the protection of endangered species.”