European Parliament votes in favour of EU plan to replace animal experiments with cutting-edge science

Humane Society International / Europe


JVisentin/istock

BRUSSELS—The European Parliament has adopted a resolution vote calling on the European Commission to establish an EU-wide Action Plan for the active phase out of the use of animals in experiments by defining milestones and targets to incentivise progress in the replacement of animals with non-animal human-relevant methods. Nearly 10 million animals are used in invasive experiments in EU laboratories every year, including monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats and mice, a huge number of animals that has remained relatively unchanged in the last decade. The vote has been welcomed by animal welfare groups; Humane Society International called the vote “an historic opportunity to take animal suffering out of EU the equation and shift the focus to modern, cutting-edge, human relevant research.”

Whilst acknowledging European-level initiatives to reduce and refine the use of animals, the Parliament recognised that an active, coordinated approach for the full replacement of animals has not been achieved. By requiring an EU-wide action plan with an ambitious timeline and list of milestones, the European Parliament is aiming to drive the active phase-out of animals used for all scientific purposes.

Eurogroup for Animals, Cruelty Free Europe, Humane Society International/Europe, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments and PETA, representing over 100 organisations from 24 EU Member States, have campaigned for the passing of the resolution. The groups are now calling on the Commission to make it a priority.

Troy Seidle, Humane Society International’s vice president for research and toxicology, says: “This vote signals the need for systemic change in the EU’s approach to safety science and health research, with Parliament embracing an historic opportunity to take animal suffering out of the equation and shift the focus to modern, human relevant technologies. If our goal isn’t to cure cancer in mice or prevent birth defects in rabbits, we need to let go of the unfounded belief that these animals are miniature people and get serious about understanding and predicting human biology in the real world. Human organ-chips, stem cell models and next-generation computing allow us to do exactly that, and can deliver considerable benefits in the study of uniquely human diseases and the assessment of potential new medicines and chemical safety generally. Today with this historic vote, the EU Parliament is calling for pro-active and coherent policies to phase-out animal experiments, such as preferential funding for non-animal methods, training scientists in new technologies and key regulatory changes to chemicals legislation. We call on the Commission to embrace these proposals and recognise that an Action Plan to hasten our departure from animal-based science is in all our interests.”

Opinion polls show that ending animal experiments is a priority for EU citizens: nearly three quarters (72%) agree that the EU should set binding targets and deadlines to phase out testing on animals. This is being echoed by the achievements of the recently launched European Citizens’ Initiative Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing, which has already gathered more than 119,000 signatures in less than three weeks.

While the EU Parliament vote is not legally binding, it does now place significant political pressure on the European Commission to respond (usually within three months) and act. HSI/Europe urges the Commission to create the Action Plan requested by Parliament, and stands ready to assist the Commission in devising and implementing concrete proposals.

“The European Parliament understands that the time is right for this action plan, because of the work that scientists have been doing to better understand the limitations of animal studies and the potential of non-animal models. There are no excuses to perpetuate the current level of reliance on animal experiments. It is clear that an ambitious phase-out plan, with clear milestones and achievable objectives, is the next step needed to start reducing significantly the use of animals in science.” -Tilly Metz (Greens/EFA, LU) – Chairwoman of the Animals in Science Working Group of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.

“It is now in the hands of the European Commission to establish this EU-wide Action Plan, and we expect the Commission will make this a high-level priority – Because if the Commission is serious about its commitments to EU citizens, it needs to start now the dialogue with all parties to effectively coordinate funding, education and milestones to accelerate the transition to non-animal science.” -Jytte Guteland MEP (S&D, SE) Member of the Animals in Science Working Group of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.

“This action plan is a win-win situation for humans, other animals, and the environment and it is imperative that it is led from the top in the Commission – Animal testing is relevant to so many different areas of the Commission’s responsibilities and a coordinated approach to reducing and replacing is essential. Delivering safety and sustainability without animal testing will help deliver the goals of EU Green Deal which is led by Vice-President Frans Timmermans.” -Anja Hazekamp MEP (The Left, NL) – Chairwoman of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.

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Press contacts:

• Yavor Gechev, HSI/Europe communications director: ygechev@hsi.org
• Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International’s campaign targets the EU as the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies including endangered species

Humane Society International / Europe


Offroad and HSI

BRUSSELS—With the European Union the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies after the United States, animal protection group Humane Society International/Europe is stepping up its fight with a new hard-hitting campaign. Its striking #NotInMyWorld campaign images featuring a trophy hunted rhinoceros wrapped and delivered in brown parcel paper, will appear across social media this month, and on buses and billboards in selected European cities in October, exposing the shocking reality that thousands of internationally protected species are being shot for fun in foreign countries and imported into the EU as trophies. HSI/Europe research reveals that nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 threatened and endangered species were imported into the EU between 2014 and 2018.

#NotInMyWorld calls on EU citizens and politicians to take action to stop the EU’s involvement in this grotesque and unsustainable killing. The campaign is running in tandem with a global petition to the European Parliament.

Among the iconic species being imported into the EU are the African elephant, African lion, rhinoceros, polar bear, lynx, walrus, captive bred tigers and the scimitar oryx, a species extinct in the wild. HSI/Europe says although the killing of imperiled wildlife by trophy hunters in countries far away may feel like a remote issue, for as long as EU countries allow the trophies to be imported, EU countries are complicit in this brutal hobby. HSI/Europe hopes its eye-catching campaign will help urge EU policy makers to ban the import and export of trophies from endangered and threatened species.

Adeline Fischer, HSI/Europe’s trophy hunting communications manager, says: “Trophy hunting has no place in modern society. The gratuitous killing of wild animals so that hunters can bring home macabre trophies of their body parts, such as elephant foot flower pots, giraffe neck floor lamps and polar bear rugs, not only shows a total lack of respect for these magnificent creatures, but also adversely impacts wild populations, exacerbates other pressures such as poaching and fails to deliver meaningful socio-economic benefits. EU citizens will be shocked to learn that the EU is the second biggest importer of hunting trophies in the world. Our campaign exposes the grim reality of the EU’s part in this cruelty. Animals are shot, stuffed, packed and delivered as trophies to Europe’s doorsteps, and citizens and politicians can and must stop it. It’s time for us all to say #NotInMyWorld.”

Although opinion polls reveal that 85% of EU citizens oppose trophy hunting of internationally protected species and 81% want to end trophy imports, many Europeans will be unaware that it is legally permitted for EU citizens to hunt threatened and endangered species in foreign countries and bring back home their stuffed body or body parts.

EU trophy import statistics for individual animals (2014-2018), include:

  • 3,119 Hartmann’s mountain zebra,
  • 1,751 chacma baboon,
  • 1,415 American black bear,
  • 1,056 brown bear,
  • 952 African elephant,
  • 889 African lion, of which 62 were captive-bred lions,
  • 839 African leopard,
  • 794 hippopotamus,
  • 480 caracal,
  • 415 red lechwe,
  • 297 cheetah—the EU is the largest importer of cheetah trophies in the world,
  • 65 polar bears,
  • Six trophies of critically endangered black rhinos.

Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the top trophy importing EU Member States, with Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and the U.S. representing the top exporting countries to the EU. Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic are the top importers of captive lion trophies from South Africa.

“The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about how cruel trophy hunting is. The fact that people visit other countries to shoot endangered species for entertainment and a thrill, and that the resulting trophies can be imported here in Europe, is outrageous. We don’t want our world to be like that,” says Thomas Candussi, lead conceptualist at offroad communications, the Austrian marketing agency that developed the campaign.

Only a few European countries have taken limited action to curb hunting trophy imports. In 2015 France banned lion trophy imports and in 2016 the Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species. Only a few European countries have taken limited action to curb hunting trophy imports. In 2015 France banned lion trophy imports and in 2016 the Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species. In March this year the Finnish parliament presented a motion proposing a trophy import ban, and in May the UK Government recommitted to a ban on the import of hunting trophies from endangered species.

Germany is Europe’s top importing country. Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason, Germany director for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “EU trophy hunters kill for kicks many thousands of wild animals around the globe, with Germany being the main destination for trophies in the EU. In addition to the cruelty, it is irresponsible to allow rich elites to shoot imperiled species for pure pleasure. Being able to have these gruesome body parts shot, stuffed, packed and shipped home for display is a major motivation for these hunters, so if more EU countries were to ban trophy imports, it would effectively help stop the killing. We urge Germany and all EU nations to protect wild species from being shot for fun overseas and flown to the EU for gruesome display, by introducing an import ban now.“

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Media Contacts:

Humane Society International / Europe


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Despite farming lobby resistance, the Farm to Fork report makes valuable policy demands to advance animal welfare and tackling climate change, says HSl/Europe

Humane Society International / Europe


The HSUS

Brussels—MEPs have backed the revision of EU animal welfare legislation, an accelerated transition away from intensive animal agriculture, greater support for plant-based proteins and zero tax for climate-friendly foods with higher tax on climate-damaging foods like meat. The European Parliament’s Committees on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and on Agriculture and Rural Development adopted their report on the European Commission’s Communication on A Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, which was a vital component of the EU’s flagship European Green Deal policy.

MEPs reiterated their support for an end to caged confinement of animals by 2027 and acknowledged that intensive animal agriculture practices increase animals’ susceptibility to infectious disease.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, issued the following statement after the joint Committee vote:

“For the sake of the environment, biodiversity, animal welfare and human health, it is imperative that the EU takes action to transition to a more sustainable food system. We cannot continue with ‘business as usual’ propping up the current (over)production and consumption of meat and other animal products which is inextricably linked to climate change, animal suffering and public health crises. Despite thousands of animal ag-driven amendments attempting to thwart progress and cling to the status quo, a sufficient numbers of MEPs paid more attention to the scientific realities of the climate and biodiversity crisis. Although far from ground-breaking, and a clear product of political compromise, the report still makes some valuable and progressive policy demands for achieving a more sustainable and animal-friendly food system, and HSI/Europe urges MEPs not to further weaken or dilute the Farm to Fork report at Plenary.”

Key animal protection and climate change language adopted by the ENVI and AGRI committees include:

  • Calls for the Commission to deliver a legislative proposal to phase out the use of cages in EU animal farming, possibly by 2027. This reiterates the Parliament’s position expressed in its Resolution of 10th June 2021 on the European Citizens Initiative to End the Cage Age.
  • A demand for the Commission and Member States to implement and enforce relevant EU legislation, including the slaughter and animal transport legislation, underscoring the importance of starting infringement procedures against systemically non-compliant Member States and the need to close legislative gaps setting higher standards in legislation for animal welfare.
  • Stresses that it is essential for the EU to take into account third country compliance with animal welfare standards, particularly concerning imported products.
  • Underlines that our current animal production systems, which frequently involve the confinement of animals of a similar genotype in close proximity to one another, can increase their susceptibility to infectious disease, creating conditions for the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases and calls for an accelerated transition away from these agricultural practices.
  • Recognises that the food system, including animal and crop production, must be brought within planetary boundaries, ensuring ambitious reductions in all greenhouse gas emissions by addressing livestock densities in the EU and embedded land use emissions from imported feed and food.
  • Stresses that agriculture and farming practices with significant negative impacts on climate, biodiversity, soil, water, air, and on animal welfare should not receive EU climate funding, nor be incentivised or rewarded.
  • Underlines the need for method of production labelling on animal products (including processed ones) to be established, including animal welfare indicators, the place of birth, rearing and slaughter of the animal, to increase transparency and help consumer choice.
  • Highlights that a population-wide shift in consumption patterns is needed towards more healthy foods, diets and lifestyles, including increased consumption of sustainably and regionally produced plants and plant-based foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and to address the overconsumption of meat and ultra-processed products, which will also benefit the environment and animal welfare.
  • Considers that the further development and sustainable innovation in the field of plant protein production and alternative sources of protein in the EU is a way of effectively addressing many of the environmental and climate challenges, as well as preventing deforestation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation in countries outside the EU.
  • Stresses that production and market uptake of plant-based proteins should be better supported, and calls for the Commission to deliver a proposal for harmonised requirements with regard to the labelling for vegetarian and vegan foods.
  • Supports giving Member States more flexibility to differentiate in the VAT rates on food with different health and environmental impacts, enabling a zero VAT tax for fruits and vegetables, and a higher VAT rate on unhealthy food and food with a high environmental footprint.

The European Commission adopted its Communication A Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system on 20th May 2020. This included inter alia a commitment to evaluating and revising the existing body of animal welfare legislation and recognised that moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system. Regrettably the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety ceded to the strongly industry-driven Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development’s demands for joint competence for this file, leading to the appointment of two rapporteurs with diametrically opposed positions on many issues: Anja Hazekamp MEP (The Left/Party for the Animals, NL) for ENVI and Herbert Dorfmann MEP for AGRI (EPP/Südtiroler Volkspartei, IT). More than 2,000 amendments were tabled to this report. Lengthy political negotiations led the original 2,295 amendments to be condensed down to 48 compromise amendments.

Humane Society International / Europe


mustafagull/iStock.com

Dove and The Body Shop have joined PETA, Cruelty Free Europe, Humane Society International/Europe, Eurogroup for Animals and the ECEAE (representing a total of 100 member organisations from 26 EU member states*) to urgently mobilise 1 million European citizens and save cruelty-free cosmetics in Europe, following threats to Europe’s longstanding ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

In 2004, after decades of campaigning by consumers, animal protection organisations and several companies, the European Union banned the testing of cosmetics products on animals. In 2009, it prohibited tests for cosmetics ingredients and, finally, in 2013 it prohibited the sale of cosmetics that had been tested on animals. The EU’s approach became the blueprint for regulatory change in countries around the world.

ECHA is proposing new animal testing on ingredients that are known to be safe.

Yet, recent test requirements from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) effectively destroy the bans and threaten the additional progress the European Parliament has been boldy calling for since 2018 – a global ban on all animal testing for cosmetics by 2023.

ECHA is calling for new animal testing on ingredients that have been safely used by consumers and handled safely in factories for many years – even those solely used for cosmetics. If this goes ahead, millions more animals could be subjected to cruel tests when there are other ways to generate safety data.

The time to act is now.

The two beauty brands have come together with NGOs to galvanise consumers to take action to save Europe’s ban on animal testing by signing a European Citizens Initiative – a petition-like mechanism for EU Citizens to help shape the EU by calling on the European Commission to propose new laws.

Animal testing for cosmetics is not necessary to ensure safety thanks to modern, human-relevant, non-animal scientific methods, which safety scientists have been developing and using for decades.

Speaking with a united voice to end animal testing for beauty products, The Body Shop, Dove and animal protection organisations are calling on consumers to sign a European Citizens Initiative, demanding that the European Commission:

      1. Protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban

Initiate legislative change to achieve consumer, worker and environmental protection for all cosmetics ingredients without new tests with animals for any purpose at any time.

      2. Transform EU chemicals regulation

Ensure human health and the environment are protected by managing chemicals without the addition of new animal testing requirements.

      3. Modernise regulatory science in the EU

Commit, before the end of its current term of office, to a legislative proposal plotting a road map to phase out all animal testing in the EU.

Together, they aim to get to 1 million signatures in the fastest time ever for a European Citizens Initiative – sending a clear message that ECHA’s demands for new testing break with the policy of animal testing as a last resort, backed by the European Commission, and break the wishes of EU citizens.

But they can’t do it alone.

European citizens can sign the Initiative here and tell the Commission they won’t accept broken promises from Europe, or regulations that mean animals suffer and die for cosmetics.

Joint animal protection groups state: Polls show that three quarters of adults in EU member states agree that animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients is unacceptable in all circumstances, and 70% back a phase-out plan for all animal testing. It’s sad that once again we have to fight a battle that Europe’s citizens thought they had already won, but with a successful European Citizens Initiative, we can make decision-makers listen, protect the ground-breaking bans and secure concerted action to end the suffering of animals in EU laboratories for good**:

Dove has spent 15 years working to change the beauty industry for the better, starting with ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ and launching the world’s biggest self-esteem programme.  As a proudly certified cruelty-free brand, Dove has supported global bans to permanently end animal testing everywhere in the world, working alongside lawmakers, animal protection organisations and like-minded companies to achieve this goal.

Firdaous El Honsali, Senior Director of Global Communications and Sustainability at Dove, says: “At Dove, we stand passionately against animal cruelty. We strongly believe that there is no role for animal testing for beauty products or their ingredients and have pioneered safe and humane alternatives to assess the safety of products and ingredients for many years. This commitment drives us to take urgent action to protect the ban against animal testing in the EU. Together with our partners, The Body Shop and leading animal protection groups, we urge both our peers in the beauty industry and the general public to lend their voice in the fight to end animal testing in the EU once and for all by signing this European Citizens Initiative.”

The Body Shop has been campaigning relentlessly against the practice of animal testing for cosmetics since 1989 – helping to lead the charge towards the current ban in Europe.

Christopher Davis, Global CSR and Activism Director, The Body Shop International, adds: “The Body Shop was the first global beauty brand to fight against animal testing in cosmetics and this commitment has been at the forefront of our activist campaigns for over three decades. Our work with our campaign partners Cruelty Free International led to the original European Union ban in 2013. Today, we are calling the EU – home to the world’s largest cosmetics market – to stick to the trailblazing promise they made. We are proud to collaborate with Dove and speak as one voice, along with all those working towards a global end to animal testing for cosmetics, in support of this European Citizen’s Initiative.”

EU timeline on animal testing

2004: EU implements a ban on animal testing for finished cosmetic products.

2009: A ban on animal testing for cosmetic ingredients and combinations of ingredients is introduced as well as a marketing ban for all human health effects with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics.

2013: A complete marketing ban for cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals strengthens the existing bans.

2018: European Parliament adopts a resolution calling for a global ban on animal testing – establishing Europe’s role as a world leader in the fight against animal cruelty.

2021: In recent years ECHA has called for tens of thousands of animals to be used in cosmetics ingredients tests

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • *Animal protection organisations behind the European Citizens Initiative:
    • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and its affiliates in Germany, France and the Netherlands
    • Cruelty Free Europe
    • Humane Society International/Europe and its affiliates in Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania
    • Eurogroup for Animals
    • European Coalition to End Animal Experiments
  • **A European-wide survey among the public to gauge perceptions of animal testing in the EU.

Fur-free pledge follows Mytheresa’s 2021 exotic skins ban

Humane Society International / Europe


Mark Hicken, Alamy Stock photo

MUNICH—Luxury German online fashion retailer Mytheresa has announced it is going fur-free. The platform of more than 200 international designers will be phasing out existing fur inventory by the end of 2022. The ban will cover fur from factory-farmed animals such as mink, fox, chinchilla, muskrat, rabbit, raccoon dog, sable and karakul lamb, as well as fur from wild animals such as coyote and beaver.

The compassionate stance follows the retailer’s decision to ban exotic skins from species including but not limited to python, lizard, alligator, crocodile, ostrich, shark, kangaroo and stingray, since Spring/Summer this year. The pledge has been welcomed by the Germany director for Humane Society International, part of the Humane Society family of organisations, which helped negotiate the fur-free pledge with Mytheresa.

Michael Kliger, CEO of Mytheresa, said: “At Mytheresa, we believe that sustainability is an important part of our future strategy and this view is clearly shared by our customers, partners and employees. As we already stopped buying Exotic Skins in Spring/Summer 2021, it was clear that going fur-free is the natural next step for Mytheresa. We are proud to be making this change and thank the Humane Society of the United States, Four Paws and the Fur Free Alliance for supporting this policy.”

Mytheresa developed its animal welfare policy in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, and in accordance with the guidelines of the Fur Free Retailer program. The program is supported by the Fur Free Alliance, an international coalition of more than 50 leading animal welfare and environmental protection organisations. The retailer states that its new policy is in line with the changing needs and ethical choices of its customers, and that it will rely on innovation to continuously seek more sustainable alternatives.

Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason, Germany director for Humane Society International/Europe, welcomed the pledge and said it’s time for Germany to also ban the sale of cruel fur: “We welcome Mytheresa’s compassionate pledge to go fur-free. This pledge reflects the ethical concerns and demands of consumers and puts the company shoulder to shoulder with some of the most respected names in luxury and designer fashion, such as HUGO BOSS, Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Gucci, Prada, Chanel and Versace, in rejecting fur. We now need the German government to strongly advocate for a Europe-wide ban on fur production and to take appropriate action.”

Despite fur farming bans in many European Union countries, the EU still breeds and kills almost 38 million animals a year on fur farms, which causes immense animal suffering and poses a high public health risk, as many COVID-19 cases in fur farms across Europe have proven.

PJ Smith, director of fashion policy for the Humane Society of the United States, said: “We applaud Mytheresa for its decision to stop selling fur and exotic skins. Animal welfare policies like Mytheresa’s will help drive the demand for innovative materials that are better for animals and the planet and should be part of every company’s environmental, social and corporate governance strategy.”

Humane Society International is dedicated to working with all apparel companies to adopt fur-free policies because they have the capacity to save hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of animals from cruelty. HSI’s fur farm investigations show the unbearable existence that animals endure on fur farms before being brutally killed.

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, chinchillas and rabbits – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Germany introduced new animal welfare legislation in 2017, with a five-year transition period, that required stricter standards on fur farms such as increased cages sizes and swimming basins for mink. The new regulations meant that fur farming was no longer deemed profitable and this led to the closure of the last remaining mink farm in 2019, before the new measures came into force. Up to this day, the German government has not introduced an official fur production ban.
  • Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 12 countries (including 10 EU member states) have been found infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls. The potential for zoonotic disease spread, and for mink fur farms in particular to act as reservoirs for coronaviruses, incubating pathogens transmissible to humans, is another compelling reason for governments around the world to call time on fur, by banning farming and sales. Download HSI’s white paper on fur farms and pandemic risks.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. In late 2020 the government in Hungary declared a ban on the fur farming of animals including mink and foxes, and in June this year Ireland confirmed it is preparing legislation to end the practice. France, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are considering fur farming bans.
  • Earlier this year Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. The towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts and the city of Ann Arbor in Michigan have also recently banned fur sales, and more US cities and states are looking to follow suit in the future. In the United Kingdom, the government is also considering a fur sales ban and recently held a public consultation which received 30,000 responses.

Mytheresa’s statement on fur can be found in detail here.

Download photos and video from HSI/UK’s latest Finland fur farm investigation.

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Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Forward Food is inspiring institutional dietary change that is kinder to people, animals and the planet

Humane Society International / Global


HSI

LONDON—As world leaders prepare to meet for the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November, to discuss vital climate change mitigation strategies, the need to reduce the environmental impacts of our diets has never been more urgent. As well as urging COP26 leaders to ensure that animal agriculture is on the event agenda, Humane Society International/UK also launched a virtual plant-based culinary programme through its Forward Food programme, to help institutions play their part in helping Brits eat for the planet with more plant-based menus.

Reducing meat and dairy production and consumption is one of the most effective actions we can take to avoid catastrophic climate change. Animal agriculture, which breeds, raises and slaughters more than 88 billion animals per year, is recognised as a major contributor to climate change, responsible for an estimated 14.5%—16.5% of human induced greenhouse gas GHG emissions globally. This makes the emissions from farming animals for food on par with the emissions from the entire transport sector. Scientists agree—including the 107 experts who prepared a report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the more than 11,000 signatories from 153 countries to a recent paper in the journal BioScience—that global shifts towards more plant-based diets will be key in tackling climate change.

HSI/UK’s interactive online culinary workshop equips chefs with the knowledge, skills and inspiration they need to develop delicious and nutritious plant-based dishes in the comfort of their own kitchens. By now offering this training online, HSI/UK not only caters for kitchens that are still operating with a reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, but also helps meet the growing demand for plant-based trainings by reaching more kitchens and chefs throughout Britain. The video-based workshop, led by HSI/UK’s Forward Food chef and renowned food writer, Jenny Chandler, consist of four toolkits exploring key aspects of plant-based cooking: umami flavour, texture, pulses, and grains and seeds. As part of the training, HSI/UK also calculates greenhouse gas savings from kitchens that are shifting away from meat and dairy-based menus to more plant-based options.

Charlie Huson, HSI//UK’s Forward Food programme manager, says: Demand for tasty and satisfying vegan options in Britain’s canteens and kitchens is growing rapidly, as students, customers and caterers across the country realise the incredible health, environmental and animal welfare benefits of a more plant-based diet. Reducing meat and dairy consumption is one of the single most important actions we can all take to tackle climate change, so we are incredibly excited that by launching our Forward Food training on a new virtual and interactive platform, we can help even more universities, corporate kitchens and catering companies meet growing demand for more plant-centred menus. Plant-based foods are going mainstream, and kitchens can now serve a plant-based version of almost anything from burgers to brownies. Our Forward Food virtual toolkits are entertaining, super easy to follow, and a must for chefs eager to explore the world of plant-based cooking.”

Watch the teaser video for HSI/UK’s virtual plant-based culinary workshop here.

HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme has already been implemented at top universities across the country including Cambridge, Oxford, St. Andrews, Winchester, Portsmouth, London School of Economics and Political Science, City University, University of London, Swansea, Harper Adams, Central Lancashire, Oxford Brookes and Sheffield. Major British foodservice professionals such as Sodexo UK, Compass Group and Baxter Storey have also implemented the programme.

The very first Forward Food virtual plant-based culinary programme was conducted with the University of Winchester last month. Dave Morton, University of Winchester Catering Operations Manager, said, “We are proud that HSI/UK’s first Forward Food virtual training was held with the University of Winchester. We have noticed a demand for more plant-based menu options, so since 2016 our catering team has worked to reduce our meat and dairy offering, and in 2018 we started collaborating with HSI/UK to create more delicious plant-based meals. We pride ourselves in having a strong commitment to sustainability, animal welfare and social justice, and we are happy to share that by reducing our procurement of meat and dairy, we have lowered our food-related carbon footprint by 39%. The Forward Food virtual training is a great way to further engage our catering team, despite the current restrictions.”

Plant-based diets boast many other benefits. Studies show that people who eat fewer animal products have lower rates of a range of health issues including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Replacing meat, milk and eggs produced by industrial animal agriculture also benefits farm animals, billions of whom spend all or part of their lives in cages or crates, where they are unable to exercise, engage in their natural behaviours and often cannot even turn around because of lack of space.

TAKE PART: If your institution is interested in the Forward Food virtual plant-based culinary programme, please contact Charlie Huson, HSI//UK’s Forward Food programme manager, at CHuson@hsi.org.

FARM FACTS: 

  • 2 billion terrestrial animals are raised for food in the UK every year, with around 3.4 million animals slaughtered every day; which equates to 143,200 per hour; 2,400 per minute and 40 every second (FAO)
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for an estimated 5%—16.5%of GHG emissions globally—roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. (FAO) In the UK alone, the GHG emissions from a meat-centric diet are 2.5 times that of one without animal products. (NCBI)
  • In the UK 20% of 16-24 year-olds and 12% of adults follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. (Mintel)
  • Nearly half (44%) of people in Britain do not eat meat, have reduced the amount of meat they eat or are considering cutting down.(NatCen British Social Attitudes February 2016)

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Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and campaigns manager for HSI/UK: LRoode@hsi.org; +27 (0)713601104

Humane Society International / Europe


Cecil the lion
Brent Stapelkamp Cecil the lion.

BRUSSELS—Marking the sixth anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter, animal and nature protection NGOs, members of the European Parliament, and conservation experts from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya are calling on the EU to ban the import of hunting trophies. In a webinar, Humane Society International/Europe discussed a new analysis of trade data revealing that the European Union is the world’s second biggest hunting trophy importer after the United States, importing nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species between 2014 and 2018.

The issue of trophy hunting has become increasingly controversial over the past decade not simply for the animal cruelty, but also due to concerns about the biodiversity crisis. Momentum is growing to take action to curb hunting trophy imports. France banned the import of lion trophies in 2015 and the Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species in 2016. In Germany two political parties (Greens and Left) have included a trophy import ban in their party manifestos.

The webinar, held in collaboration with the European Parliament’s interest group MEPs for Wildlife, Humane Society International/Europe, Born Free Foundation, Eurogroup for Animals and Pro Wildlife, explored how trophy hunting places unsustainable pressure on endangered and other imperiled species, and whether this practice really does make a significant contribution to wildlife conservation as claimed by its proponents.

German MEP Manuela Ripa (Greens/EFA), who hosted the event, said:

“It is crucial that Members of the European Parliament address the issue of the killing of wild animals, endangered or otherwise, purely for the purpose of procuring trophies to hang on their walls. Especially in the wake of the EU Biodiversity Strategy it is important to consider the impact that European citizens travelling to far-flung destinations solely to shoot and bring home animal body parts may be having on wild animal populations elsewhere around the world. Instead of having tightly regulated trophy hunting, I pledge for tightly regulated ‘photo hunting, which  would have a bigger benefit for species, support ecosystems and the communities involved. I strongly urge the European Commission to address the issue of trophy hunting in its upcoming evaluation of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, Humane Society International/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, noted:

“The shocking role of European citizens in global trophy hunting should not be underestimated. Humane Society International’s new EU Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report reveals that shockingly the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies from 73 species between 2014 and 2018, despite them being protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is shameful that the EU is the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies, bringing in almost 3,000 trophies every year, including African lions and elephants, black rhinos, leopards, zebra, cheetahs, lynx and polar bears. Germany, Spain and Denmark account for 52% of all imported trophies, and the trade data shows that trophy import numbers have actually steadily increased by almost 40% during the period studied despite opinion polls showing that the vast majority of EU citizens oppose the gratuitous practice of killing wild animals for pleasure, display and bragging rights.  The only way we should be shooting wild and endangered animals is with cameras, not guns or arrows.”

Dr Mark Jones, head of policy for the Born Free Foundation, added:

“Born Free is ethically opposed to the hunting or killing of any animal for sport or pleasure. We also challenge the claims made by proponents of trophy hunting that it delivers significant conservation and community benefits, or that it positively contributes to the sustainable use of wildlife. Studies have consistently shown that trophy hunting does not provide a significant source of income to rural people, and certainly pales in comparison to other wildlife-related activities such as ecotourism. The killing of animals by trophy hunters also causes immeasurable animal suffering, and negatively impacts wildlife conservation by removing individual animals that are key to their populations. The trophy hunting industry is wracked by corruption, with excessive quotas being set that are often exceeded. We urge European nations to take action to stop their citizens jetting off to exotic locations to kill and imperil wild animals elsewhere in the world.”

Reineke Hameleers, CEO at Eurogroup for Animals, said:

“The trophy hunting practice of primarily removing the largest and most physically impressive animal specimens, puts species conservation in jeopardy, disrupts social herd structures and weakens gene pools of species that are already threatened. In a time of global biodiversity crisis, it is urgent for the EU and Member States to acknowledge that it is irresponsible to allow rich elites to shoot endangered species for pure pleasure, and finally ban the import of hunting trophies. We need to move away from the unethical consumption of wildlife and look at how the EU can instead encourage and reward investment in wildlife so that concrete and significant benefits can be achieved by local communities through its non-consumptive and ecologically sustainable use. Wild animals should be worth more to these communities alive than dead.”

Daniela Freyer, co-founder of Pro Wildlife, added:

“Germany has the dubious honour of being the top importing nation for hunting trophies in the European Union. It is sickening that a very small minority of my fellow German citizens still enjoy travelling to faraway places to kill animals for fun, pose with their dead bodies for tasteless selfies and hang their body parts on the walls back home. Trophy hunting is not only cruel and unnecessary, but it also poses a significant risk to wildlife conservation and biodiversity. The majority of EU citizens, including Germans, are opposed to the unethical practice of killing wild animals for trophies. It is time for Germany and other EU Member States to act and prohibit the import of hunting trophies.”

Facts

  • Trophy Hunting: Conservation Tool, or a Threat to Wildlife? was organised by MEPs for Wildlife in collaboration with Humane Society International/Europe, Pro Wildlife, Born Free Foundation and Eurogroup for Animals on 30th June 2021 with the participation of the following speakers and panelists:
  • Dr Audrey Delsink, wildlife director, Humane Society International/Africa
  • Paula Kahumbu, wildlife conservationist and CEO, WildlifeDirect; Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year
  • Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, environment lawyer and director, Advocates4Earth, Zimbabwe
  • Miet van Looy, International Relations Officer – CITES and EU Wildlife Trade Regulations,DG Environment, European Commission
  • Dr David Scallan – secretary general, European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE)
  • Opinion poll results demonstrate that the vast majority of EU citizens (over 80%) oppose trophy hunting and want to end trophy imports.
  • HSI/Europe’s Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report reveals that Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the top trophy importing EU Member States, with Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and the US representing the top exporting countries to the EU. Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic are the top importers of captive lion trophies. EU trophy import statistics for individual animals (2014-2018), include:
    • 3,119 Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
    • 1,751 Chacma baboon.
    • 1,415 American black bear.
    • 1,056 brown bear.
    • 952 African elephant.
    • 889 African lion (of which 660 were captive-bred lions in South Africa).
    • 839 African leopard.
    • 794 hippopotamus.
    • 480 caracal.
    • 415 red lechwe.
    • 297 cheetah – the EU is the largest importer of cheetah trophies in the world.
    • 65 polar bears
    • Six critically endangered black rhinos.

Watch a recording of the webinar.

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Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Almost 3,000 trophies imported annually including zebra, lions, baboons and elephants

Humane Society International / Global


Cathy Smith Wild African elephants

BRUSSELS—A new report published in the week marking the six- year anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter reveals that the European Union is the world’s second biggest hunting trophy importer after the United States. EU Trophy Hunting by the Numbers,issued by Humane Society International/Europe shows that EU countries imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species between 2014 and 2018, an average of almost 3,000 trophies every year, including African lions, African elephants and critically endangered black rhinos. Zebras, cheetahs, Asia’s near threatened Argali sheep, and polar bears classified as vulnerable to extinction were also imported. Germany, Spain and Denmark accounted for 52% of all imported trophies. In the five-year period analysed, the EU imported trophies taken from 889 African lions, 229 of whom were wild lions just like Cecil.

Although media reports tend to focus on high profile U.S. trophy hunting incidents such as the killing of Cecil by dentist Walter Palmer or the dead giraffe selfie by Rebecca Francis, HSI’s report shows that the  role of EU hunters in this deadly pastime is often overlooked. Europeans regularly travel to foreign countries to kill iconic species and bring home body parts for display.\

HSI’s comprehensive analysis of trade data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) shows that an average of 2,982 trophies are imported into the EU every year, or more than eight trophies every day. Trophy import numbers have been steadily increasing by almost 40% between 2014 and 2018 despite the fact that opinion polls show the vast majority of EU citizens (over 80%) oppose trophy hunting and want to end trophy imports.

EU trophy import statistics for individual animals (2014-2018), include:

  • 3,119 Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
  • 1,751 Chacma baboon.
  • 1,415 American black bear.
  • 1,056 brown bear.
  • 952 African elephant.
  • 889 African lion (of which 660 were captive-bred lions in South Africa).
  • 839 African leopard.
  • 794 hippopotamus.
  • 480 caracal.
  • 415 red lechwe.
  • 297 cheetah—the EU is the largest importer of cheetah trophies in the world.
  • 65 polar bears.
  • Six trophies of critically endangered black rhinos.

Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the top trophy importing EU Member States, with Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and the U.S. represent the top exporting countries to the EU. Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic are the top importers of captive lion trophies.

Dr. Jo Swabe, senior director of public affairs, Humane Society International/Europe says: “EU trophy hunters kill for kicks many thousands of wild animals, including endangered or threatened species. In addition to the cruelty, as the world faces a biodiversity crisis, it is irresponsible to allow rich elites to shoot imperiled species for pure pleasure. Being able to have these gruesome body parts shot, stuffed, packed and shipped home for display is a major motivation for these hunters, so if more EU countries were to ban trophy imports, it would effectively help stop the killing.”

Trophy hunting has little to do with conservation or supporting local communities. Hunters pay huge sums of money to kill the strongest and most impressive animals for gratification, display and bragging rights. They enter their achievements into record books kept by trophy hunting membership organizations such as Safari Club International which ascribes competition points for killing the largest animals. Studies show that typically only 3% of money from trophy hunting ever reaches local communities. Wildlife-watching eco-tourism generates far more income and jobs to support conservation and local jobs.

Dr. Swabe from HSI/Europe says: “Killing the largest or strongest animals, who play an important ecological role in genetic diversity and resilience, jeopardises species conservation, disrupts social herd structures and weakens gene pools of wild animal populations already facing a myriad of threats. The conservation argument is a sham employed by people who know it is unsavoury to admit they simply enjoy killing animals for fun and tasteless selfies. With so much at stake, and the vast majority of EU citizens opposed to the killing, it’s time for EU member states to ban trophy imports.”

A few European countries have taken limited action to curb hunting trophy imports. France banned the import of lion trophies in 2015. The Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species in 2016. In February 2021 the UK Prime Minister expressed his government’s intention to end the import of trophies, and in March this year the Finnish parliament presented a motion proposing a trophy import ban. HSI/Europe believes its analysis showing the shocking extent to which EU countries enable the global trophy hunting industry, should inspire member states to introduce comprehensive bans as quickly as possible.

Media Invite:

 On 30th June, HSI/Europe will hold a webinar “Trophy Hunting: Conservation tool, or a threat to wildlife?” in collaboration with MEPs for Wildlife and other NGOs. Hosted by Manuela Ripa MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany), and with guests HSI Africa elephant biologist Dr. Audrey Delsink, WildlifeDirect CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu, environmental lawyer Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, DG Environment’s Jorge Rodriguez, and Dr. David Scallan from the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation, the webinar will ask whether trophy hunting places unsustainable pressure on endangered species or, as claimed by its exponents, makes a contribution to wildlife conservation and local people. Register to attend.

Download Photos/Videos

Download the Report in French, German, Spanish , Italian and Polish

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Media Contacts:

Notes:

HSI/Europe obtained data for this report from the WCMC-CITES Trade Database website (https://trade.cites.org/) on March 4, 2021. Trade data for the years 2014-2018 were analysed, filtering for mammal species (“Class” = “Mammalia”) and using Comparative Tabulations, with imports calculated based on Importer Reported Quantity and Exports calculated based on Exporter Reported Quantity. To estimate the total number of mammals traded as trophies, we analyzed the term “trophies” for purposes “personal” and “hunting trophy” for all species, as well as several species-specific terms (such as “bodies”, “skins”, “rugs”, etc.) for the purpose “hunting trophy”.

A representative opinion poll conducted in March 2021 and commissioned by HSI/Europe surveyed opinion in Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany and Poland. Results reveal that 85% of respondents do not support trophy hunting of internationally protected species. A similar proportion (81%) also feel that people should not be allowed to import trophies of dead animals from other countries.

Since 2016, the EU has overtaken the US as the world’s largest importer of captive bred lion trophies after the US listed the African lion in its Endangered Species Act.

The EU is also an exporter of hunting trophies, including foreign species and native species strictly protected under the EU Habitats Directive. The top trophies exported from the EU were from the brown bear, Barbary sheep, African leopard, hippopotamus, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, grey wolf and African elephant. The top five EU Member States exporting mammal trophies of EU and non-EU species were Romania, France, Spain, Denmark and Croatia. During the period of analysis, the EU exported 246 brown bear trophies, nine Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) trophies and 35 grey wolf trophies. The top countries of origin for brown bear trophies exported from the EU were Romania, Sweden, Croatia, Germany and Slovenia while the primary countries of origin for Eurasian lynx trophies exported from the EU were Sweden, Russia and Latvia. Romania, Spain, Bulgaria, Latvia and Russia were the key countries of origin of grey wolf trophies exported from the EU.

Calls to tighten up EU wildlife trade rules and address pandemic risks welcomed

Humane Society International / Europe


Tikki Hywood Trust

BRUSSELS—The global decline in biodiversity poses a serious environmental threat and is also inextricably linked to climate change as well as the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Today the European Parliament adopted a robust report on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which acknowledges that bold action is needed to halt the loss of biodiversity and protect and restore nature in the EU and beyond.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said:

“It is high time to re-evaluate our relationship with other animals and exploitation of the natural world. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call to humanity. This coronavirus is the latest in a long line of zoonotic diseases that have wreaked havoc with human health and society. The more we continue to exploit animals for food, fur and even our hobbies and encroach on and/or destroy animals’ natural habitats and lose biodiversity, the greater the opportunities for emerging infectious diseases to spread to human populations. HSI welcomes the Parliament’s report, which addresses many of our own key concerns, such as the need to tackle legal and illegal wildlife trade, marine species protection, achieving coexistence with large carnivores, and trade policy, and we urge the European Commission to act on MEPs recommendations to further strengthen its Biodiversity Strategy and take decisive action to protect nature.”

A very wide range of environmental issues were addressed in the report, but HSI would particularly like to applaud the Parliament’s:

  • Call for global EU leadership to end the commercial trade in endangered species and for the Commission to address both the legal and illegal wildlife trade in the review of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking;
  • Request that the Commission to consider adopting a moratorium on imports of wild animals from emerging infectious disease hotspots to minimise the risk of future pandemics;
  • Call for the delivery of a legislative proposal to prohibit the trade in wildlife species taken in violation of the laws of the country of origin since this would close the loopholes in the existing EU Wildlife Trade Regulations;
  • Call for the Commission to revise the Environmental Crime Directive and to recognise environmental crimes and offences, such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and wildlife crime, as serious criminal activities that should be adequately penalised with a strong deterrent effect, especially in the context of organised crime;
  • Request for the Commission to explore the possibility of adding a protocol on wildlife crime to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;
  • Expresses strong support for the global moratorium on commercial whaling and urging Norway and Japan to cease their whaling operations, in addition to calling for the EU and Member States to urge the International Whaling Commission to formally address Norway’s commercial whaling activities;
  • Observes that there are clear guidelines to implement preventative measures and compensation in regards to conflicts linked to the coexistence with large carnivores to ensure their protection under the EU Habitats Directive;
  • Acknowledgement that fur production significantly compromises animal welfare and increases their susceptibility to infectious diseases including zoonoses, as has occurred with COVID-19 in mink.

Regrettably, MEPs voted in favour of retrograde amendments that weakened robust language adopted by the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which:

  • Demanded a full and immediate EU ban on the trade, import export or re-export in the EU of all ivory;
  • Underlined the importance of facilitating the adoption of sustainable diets, including plant-based diets; recognising that animal agriculture can contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change;

Facts

  • The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 was adopted by the European Commission in May 2020 as a key element of the European Green Deal. It is a comprehensive long-term plan, which makes various commitments to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems.

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Media contact: Dr Jo Swabe, Humane Society International: jswabe@hsi.org

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