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China to open bile bear farm to media: medical association

(Xinhua)

13:17, February 17, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- China plans to open a farm that breeds bears for bile extraction to reporters, a medical association said Thursday.

China has 68 legal bile bear farms with more than 10,000 bears, 6,000 to 8,000 of which are scheduled to undergo bile extraction operations, said Fang Shuting, head of the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), at a press conference held Thursday afternoon.

He did not clarify when the farm would open to the media, nor did he specify which farm would be opened.

The conference came after animal welfare groups and members of the public protested against an IPO (initial public offering) plan by Guizhentang, a company that manufacturers medicine using bile extracted from live bears.

Bear bile, a popular ingredient in TCM, is believed to cure liver and eye ailments, remove toxins and eliminate fevers.

Bear farms, which began to thrive in China in the early 1980s, remain legal in the country, although calls for eliminating the industry have mounted in recent years.

Fang denied that the association has a "direct connection" to Guizhentang's IPO plan, adding that the company is not a member of the association.

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