Worried about animal testing? Mildly disturbed by the idea of gerbils wearing lipstick? Celebrate freaky new advances in biotech that allow cosmetic companies to test on "reconstructed eye tissue and tiny circles of skin developed from donor cells harvested from cosmetic operations."
The lede of The New York Times report captures the surreal nature of the advances:
The delicate hybrids thriving in the balmy climes of Provence, southern France's traditional perfume region, include sweet jasmine, May roses — and fresh layers of artificial human skin.
Companies are hustling to get on board with non-animal cosmetics testing because of an upcoming EU ban, but many companies have been moving in this direction voluntarily for years as improving technology has offered the luxury of being more moral.
When testing on cuddly bunnies was the only way to be sure new products wouldn't hurt people, we had to suck it up and coat Flopsy in Lancome. Now we have options–and the fact that some beauty products are being tested on an artificial skin product made from the cells of plastic surgery patients has a kind of Palahniukian poetic justice to it.
To make Episkin, donor keratinocyte cells, collected after breast and abdominal plastic surgery, are cultured in tiny wells of collagen gel, immersed in water, amino acids and sugars, and then air-dried for 10 days or aged to mimic mature skin by exposure to ultraviolet light.
Lots more on animal rights here.