Subject: Seal aphrodisiacs often fake - (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Wed, 28 Jan 1998 11:06:47 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 98 12:10:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Seal aphrodisiacs often fake -

Seal aphrodisiacs often fake -Canadian researchers

    By Amran Abocar
     TORONTO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Aphrodisiacs advertised as
containing Canadian seal penises, an ingredient highly prized by
Asians, are often fakes made from genitalia of animals such as
dogs and cows, researchers said on Tuesday.
     Researchers from McMaster University in Canada found that
about half the aphrodisiacs they tested were fake and used
genitalia from dogs, cats and cattle as well as the endangered
Australian fur seal.
     "They're selling penises under one name and in fact the
source is something different," said Bradley White, a professor
at McMaster in Hamilton, Ont.
     His team used genetic analysis to test seal penis products
bought undercover from Asian herbal medicine stores in Thailand,
Hong Kong, China, the United States and Canada.
     Asians have traditionally regarded seal penis as an
aphrodisiac because of a belief in traditional Chinese medicine
that it enhances male virility, although there has been little
scientific research proving its effectiveness.
     White and colleague David Lavigne first highlighted the
problem in a December article in the journal Conservation
Biology and on Monday released data from genetic testing that
showed the extent to which other substances were substituted for
seal penis in the products they bought.
     White said the other substances would likely not work as
aphrodisiacs but vendors of the tonics were tempted by their
greater availability and lower cost.
     "Domesticated animals don't have the same power as wild
animals," White said. "But you can get a domestic animal penis
a lot easier and cheaper."
     Supplies of Canadian seal penises are limited. Although
there are strong protests against the annual seal hunt, the
Canadian government allows a controlled annual cull of about
300,000 seals a year.
     Even so, the penises are being marketed as genuine, Canadian
seal products. Some advertisements prominently display posters
of Canadian seal pups while others carry large window signs. The
Canadian flag is also displayed on the label.
     The fraud is difficult to detect because the penis is often
ground into powder or mixed in bottles of wine. Even when they
are sold whole, unscrupulous vendors mold the material to look
like the real thing.
     Canadian seal penises are priced from C$20 (US$14) for a
small plastic bag or vial to C$650 (US$442) for a
specially-packaged box. The price difference depends on the
quantity and type of packaging for the product.