EU regulations on the issue are currently in the draft stage but are notexpected to come into force for several years.
The UK's Guardian newspaper reported that a sales agent for an unnamedChinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses ofexecuted convicts to develop beauty products for sale inEurope.
Agents for the firm told a researcher for the paper who posed as apotential buyer that it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkletreatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have beenshot.
The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to theUK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is"traditional" and nothing to "make such a big fussabout", according to the Guardian.
The chairman of a House of Commons select health committee, Kevin Barron,told the newspaper its members may launch an investigation into theallegation. The newspaper did not name the Chinesecollagen company due to legal reasons.
The agent told the Guardian researcher: "A lot of the research isstill carried out in the traditional manner using skin from the executedprisoner and aborted foetus."
The material was being bought from "bio tech" companies basedin the northern province of Heilongjiang, and was being developed elsewherein China, the Guardian reported.
"In China it is considered very normal and I was very shockedthat western countries can make such a big fuss about this," theagent is reported to have said.
The agent said the Chinese government has put some pressure on all themedical facilities to keep this type of work in low profile.
"We are still in the early days of selling these products, andclients from abroad are quite surprised that China can manufacture the samehuman collagen for less than five per cent of what it costs in the west," he is reported to have said.
According to Amnesty International about 3,400 Chinese prisoners wereshot in executions last year, and another 6,000 are on death row. TheChinese government has admitted that organs aretransplanted from dead prisoners, but only with their prior consent.
Collagen is a structural protein found in skin, bones, tendons and otherconnective tissue. It is used in cosmetic surgery to plump up lips andflatten out wrinkles.