Humane Society International / Japan


Minke whale
Alamy Minke whale

LONDON—Ahead of the Tokyo Summer Games starting this week, promoted by the Japanese government as the “greenest games ever”, animal protection groups have written to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to say that Japan can’t win gold for the environment until it stops the cruel and unsustainable practice of commercial whaling.

In a letter to Japan’s Prime Minister, Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa and Ambassador to the UK, Hajime Hayashi, the Humane Society International/UK, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, ORCA, Environmental Investigation Agency, Four Paws, Animal Welfare Institute and Cetacean Society International commend Japan for its environmental achievements for the Games such as plastic waste podiums and recycled metal medals but say that slaughtering whales not only causes immense animal suffering, it also kills some of our planet’s most important environmental guardians.

The letter explains that whales not only circulate nutrients that encourage the growth of carbon dioxide-absorbing phytoplankton by feeding in deep water and defecating at the surface, but their immense bodies also safely lock away tons of the greenhouse gas for hundreds of years when they die and their bodies sink to the sea bed.

The letter reads: “We are at a pivotal moment in our global efforts to avert catastrophic climate breakdown, and high-profile, international events like the Olympics provide a vital platform to promote environmental protection. However, as Olympic hosts, Japan’s commitments on planetary protection need to extend beyond the National Stadium, beyond plastic waste podiums, recycled metal medals and sustainable athletic apparel… Whales play a key role in capturing and storing harmful carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is the main contributor to climate change. One way they do this is when they feed at depth and then defecate nearer the water surface, they provide vital nutrients to the plant plankton, or phytoplankton, which grow in the sunlit upper waters. Globally, phytoplankton absorbs up to 35% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide produced. Whales also store tons of carbon in their bodies, and so when they die their carcasses sink to the seabed safely locking away 33 tons of CO2 on average for hundreds of years.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK which initiated the letter, says: “This week the Japanese government will be proudly launching the Summer Games in Tokyo and celebrating its green credentials. But looking beyond the podiums made of recycled mobile phones, we find a nation flying in the face of world opinion in its grim persistence to maintain cruel and outdated commercial whaling. These ocean leviathans play a vital role in maintaining healthy oceans and climate, and instead of blasting them with exploding harpoons Japan should join the nations united in efforts to safeguard their populations and habitats.”

The International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on commercial whaling, agreed in 1982, has helped great whale populations increase, likely saving several species from extinction. Yet many whale populations remain low or endangered—and all whales face the huge threats of fishing-related deaths, ship collisions, climate change, and chemical, litter and noise pollution.  Since 1987, Japan killed more than 15,000 whales under the ‘special permit’ guise of scientific research which it used as a loophole to kill whales for profit. The legitimacy of Japan’s use of the ‘scientific whaling clause’ was rejected in the International Court of Justice in 2014. In June 2019, Japan formally left the IWC and continued to kill whales without any pretence of science but openly as commercial whaling. Although it has ceased whaling in the Southern Ocean, it continues whaling in the North Pacific. There remains an international ban on commercial whaling which applies to both the high seas and countries’ territorial waters. By walking away from the IWC and continuing to kill whales, Japan is defying international law.

The groups’ letter concludes: “Scientists estimate that in the years before industrial whaling began, baleen whale populations sank up to 1.9 million tonnes of carbon per year to the ocean bed. It has been suggested that this is equivalent to removing up to 410,000 cars from our roads each year. By contrast, killing and processing whales releases carbon back into the atmosphere… We urge the Japanese government to take this opportunity to consign whale killing to the history books and demonstrate a commitment to cetacean and planetary protection.

Read the Letter

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Media Contact: Leozette Roode: lroode@hsi.org

Notes:  

The status of the three species of whale killed by Japan in the North Pacific is a complex issue. The minke whale species found here (which is different to the minke species in the Southern Ocean), has a complex population structure and there has long been concerns about the vulnerability of the population known as the J-stock. The different populations cannot be told apart at sea. The sei whales is an endangered species. Sei whales in the North Pacific were heavily exploited by commercial whaling after the larger fin and blue whales were depleted. Whilst the Bryde’s whale is not regarded as endangered, its taxonomy is not yet settled; an inshore and an offshore form are widely recognized but other populations may also exist.

Animal charity Humane Society International/UK urges Government to end nation’s love affair with meat, and to start by cutting back on House of Commons’ meaty-menus

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


nata_vkusidey via iStock.com Vegan burger

LONDON—The much-anticipated release of Part 2 of the National Food Strategy (NFS), which recommends Brits cut back on meat by 30% over the next ten years, contains ‘bold, visionary and urgent’ recommendations that Government must act upon, says Humane Society International/UK.   The landmark report, commissioned by Government and led by Henry Dimbleby, has taken a comprehensive stance on the future of the UK’s food system, to help improve public health, combat climate change and restore biodiversity.

Warmly welcoming the report, HSI/UK applauds the NFS for acknowledging the detrimental role animal agriculture plays in damaging our health, and the health of our planet, and contributing to the suffering on millions of animals worldwide through the sale of intensively farmed animals to produce meat. The report comes just four months ahead of the UK hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, where world leaders will discuss vital climate change mitigation strategies. HSI/UK urges the UK Government to seize this opportunity to show essential global leadership on transforming food systems to protect people, the planet and animals.

Claire Bass, executive director for Humane Society International/UK, responds to the report, saying: “The recommendations in the Food Strategy report are based on comprehensive science and it is imperative that the UK Government listens and acts decisively to wean the nation off the vast quantities of meat that are harming our health, our environment and causing immense suffering to billions of animals. Through HSI’s plant-based culinary chef trainings, working with huge multinational food service companies and university kitchens, we know that many businesses are already committed to increasing their meat-free and dairy-free options to meet growing consumer demand and reduce their climate impacts. If we are serious about avoiding climate catastrophe, we need politicians to own a meat reduction goal and strategy as a legitimate and essential component of tackling climate change, restoring biodiversity and ending the cruelty caused by factory farms. As UNFCCC COP26 hosts, this year is the UK’s moment to lead the way with a blueprint for a healthy, fair and sustainable food system for us all.”

There has never been a more fitting time for the launch of the report, as the UK eases out of its final stages of lockdown and looks toward restoring public health after the pandemic, in addition to hosting the world largest climate change conference in November this year. 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 worldwide per year, is responsible for a minimum of 14.5% of human induced greenhouse gas emissions globally—on par with all global transportation combined. Plant-centered diets also have many health 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. Poor diet currently contributes to an estimated 64,000 deaths every year in England.

Anticipating a negative reaction from some quarters about the prospect of reduced meat diets, HSI/UK responds that the transition away from meat-heavy meals is already well under way, with plant-based food options one of the biggest growth areas for supermarkets in recent years. The shift is also happening in the food service industry; HSI’s global Forward Food programme works with universities, food service providers and the largest caterers around the world to inspire and enable them to add more plants on plates. Since HSI/UK launched the program in 2016, Forward Food has been working together with 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 Baxterstorey have also participated in the programme, and are setting ambitious meat reduction targets of their own.

The NFS report recommends ‘strengthening government procurement rules, to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on healthy and sustainable food,’ and HSI urges the House of Commons to be the first to lead by example in response to the NSF report, by overhauling its meat-heavy menus. A 2021 report by HSI/UK, shows that the overall procurement within House of Commons’ catering produces a carbon footprint of 376 tonnes CO2 equivalent per month, of which 72% is attributed to animal-based products such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy.  The report also revealed that by cutting meat and dairy on the menus by 50% and replacing them with plant-based alternatives, House of Commons Catering could save 115 tonnes of CO2-e per month, reducing its overall food GHG emissions by almost a third (31%).

Not only are plant-based products better for our health and the environment, but evidence shows it is becoming a good business decision too. By increasing the amount of climate-friendly food on offer, institutions noticed a sales spike of 41-79%. Plant-based food is going mainstream, with more and more supermarkets, restaurants and delivery food providers experiencing an increase in public demand for food that is better for our health, the planet and animals. The time is right to set the British blueprint for a sustainable food system.

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Media Contact: Leozette Roode: LRoode@his.org; +27 71 360 1104

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

Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Judi Dench, Mary McCartney, Leona Lewis, Nathalie Emmanuel, Maggie Q among stars saying no to fur

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Dave Benett

LONDON—A host of celebrities and influencers from the world of music, film, fashion and photography have joined forces with iconic British designer Stella McCartney and global animal protection organisation Humane Society International to call for a global end to fur cruelty. Launched as part of McCartney’s Autumn 2021 ‘Our time has come’ campaign, which dropped earlier this month with a tongue-in-cheek nature mockumentary narrated by British comedian David Walliams, the celebrities posted fur-free video messages on Instagram wearing a variety of animal costumes featured in McCartney’s short film.

In the video messages, Stella McCartney, Sir Paul McCartney and Mary McCartney wearing animal head costumes, call for their audience to sign HSI’s petition to end deadly fur globally. Dame Judi Dench disguised as a bird is joined by singer Leona Lewis, actresses Nathalie Emmanuel, Maggie Q, Kat Graham and Rain Phoenix, influencer Aaliyah Ramsey, model Ariish, photographer Megan Winstone, and activists and content creators Jack Harries of Earthrise Studio and Ed Winters of Earthling Ed. The celebrity posts urge their Instagram and Twitter followers to sign Humane Society International’s petitions for a UK fur sales ban and a global end to fur farming.

The latest phase of the campaign came before the close of the British government’s Call for Evidence to consider the case for a UK fur import and sales ban, something Stella McCartney passionately supports.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, says: “Stella McCartney’s new campaign and brand is everything the fur trade isn’t –fresh, innovative, sustainable and cruelty-free. So we’re thrilled to be working with her, and to have the support of so many compassionate celebrities, to magnify the message that the age of fur fashion is dead. As the UK government considers our call for a ban on the import and sale of fur from animals who have suffered overseas, this light-hearted campaign sheds light on a serious subject – the terrible and needless cruelty that is stitched into every fur garment. The vast majority of Brits agree that the time for a #FurFreeBritain is now, and Stella McCartney is a fantastic example of how British brands can lead the world in delivering compassion in fashion.”

Having never used fur, leather, skins or feathers since it launched in 2001, Stella McCartney is asking its global community of changemakers to sign Humane Society International’s Stop Deadly Fur (North America, Europe, Asia) petition calling on all countries to ban fur farming and highlighting the trade’s danger to both human and animal lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year, over 100 million animals are killed for fur—with Stella McCartney’s use of Fur Free Fur helping prevent 60,000 animal deaths. The brand is also raising awareness for HSI’s Fur Free Britain petition, urging the UK government to ban the import and sale of fur. There is already a strong desire, with 72% of Brits supporting the proposal and a further 93% against wearing animal fur, with fur farms already illegal in the nation.

Key animal-cruelty facts:

  • Around 96 million animals are killed in fur farms annually, crammed into small barren wire cages for their entire short, miserable lives—unable to act out their natural behaviours such as running or digging.
  • Many millions of wild animals are additionally trapped for their fur each year, including over 3 million in the United States and Canada alone. Wild-roaming coyotes, wolves and foxes are caught in brutal leg hold traps, which are banned or heavily restricted in over 100 countries worldwide due to their cruelty.
  • Animals caught in traps can be left for days, unable to seek food, water or shelter, or protect themselves from predators, until the trapper’s bullet or boot puts them out of their misery. In their desperate struggle to break free, the animals can break their teeth or even gnaw off their own limbs.
  • There have been outbreaks of COVID-19 in over 400 mink farms in 12 countries across Europe and North America; not only do the mink suffer, but intensive factory fur farms have the potential to act as reservoirs for deadly viruses such as COVID-19 that could affect both human and animal health.

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Media Contact:

  • Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Tell the UK government that you support a fur import and sales ban.

‘Utilizing the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral.’

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


RT-Images/iStock.com 

LONDON—Israel has become the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur for frivolous fashion, effective 6 months from now, with a few exceptions. Humane Society International/UK, which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, hopes Israel’s ban will inspire the British government to follow its lead and also ban fur sales, a move supported by 72% of Brits in recent YouGov and Yonder opinion polls. The UK was the first country in the world to ban the fur farming in 2003, but the import and sale of fur is still allowed. The UK government has launched a Call for Evidence to consider the case for a ban.

Israel’s ban allows exemptions for the use of fur in ‘scientific research, education or instruction, and for religious purposes or tradition.’ This would, for example, permit the sale of shtreimels—fur hats traditionally worn on Shabbat and holidays by Orthodox men. A similar exemption exists in the US state of California where fur sales were banned in 2019. HSI/UK believes a UK fur sales ban would mirror those exemptions, but nonetheless still end the suffering of millions of animals whose fur is imported to the UK from fur farms overseas.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “This is a truly historic day for animal protection, with Israel becoming the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur fashion. Even with the exemption for traditional dress, without which this ban was unlikely to have succeeded, Israel’s fur ban will save the lives of millions of animals suffering on fur farms or languishing in cruel traps around the world, and it sends a clear message that fur is unethical, unnecessary and outdated. We now call on the British government to follow Israel’s compassionate lead and implement a UK fur import and sales ban once DEFRA’s Call for Evidence is completed. For as long as the UK remains open for business to sell fur that we deemed too cruel to farm here two decades ago, we are complicit in this cruelty.” 

Environmental protection minister, Gila Gamliel, passed the ban into law, and issued a statement after signing the regulations: “The fur industry causes the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals worldwide, and inflicts indescribable cruelty and suffering. Using the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral and is certainly unnecessary. Animal fur coats cannot cover the brutal murder industry that makes them. Signing these regulations will make the Israeli fashion market more environmentally friendly and far kinder to animals.”

Jane Halevy, founder of the International Anti-Fur Coalition (IAFC) which has been working towards the ban for over a decade, said: “The IAFC has promoted a bill to ban the sale of fur in Israel since 2009, and we applaud the Israeli government for finally taking the historic leap towards making fur for fashion history. All animals suffer horrifically at the hands of this cruel and backwards industry. Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. Killing animals for fur should become illegal everywhere – it is high time that governments worldwide ban the sale of fur.”

Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited and/or is in the process of being phased-out in numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the parliament in Estonia voted in favour of a fur farming ban, Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals including mink and foxes, in France politicians are currently debating a ban on mink fur farming and the Irish government has made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.

Views around fur have changed rapidly in recent years, with more and more fashion designers, including Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Versace and Armani, adopting fur-free policies, and the majority of UK high street shops being proudly fur free. A 2020 YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by HSI/UK, also reveals that 93% of the British population reject wearing real animal fur, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK. A 2021 Yonder opinion poll confirmed that 72% of Brits would support a UK fur import and sales ban. Along with British citizens, animal protection groups, local celebrities, cross-party politicians, and even the former CEO of the British Fur Trade Association have pledged their support for a #FurFreeBritain.

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. In 2020, legislators in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced fur sales ban proposals, as have cities in Minnesota and Massachusetts.

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

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Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK media and campaigns manager: LRoode@hsi.org, +27713601104

Queen guitarist Brian May says the UK should ‘close our borders to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade’

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

London—CEOs and Directors from five of the UK’s largest animal protection organisations gathered today with campaigners in geometric fox masks at the gates of No 10 Downing street to submit 1 million petition signatures to the Prime Minister, calling for the UK to ban the sale of cruel animal fur.

The #FurFreeBritain petition, led collectively by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the RSPCA, comes the day before a Ten Minute Rule Bill to propose a fur sales ban will be heard in the House of Commons. Celebrity supporter Chris Packham joined the petition hand-in virtually with a video message declaring his support for a UK fur sales ban.

Fur farming was outlawed in the UK nearly two decades ago in 2003, because it was deemed too cruel an industry to support. But since then Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals experience terrible suffering and mental distress on fur farms. This is a double standard that needs to end – if fur is too cruel to produce in this country, it’s too cruel to sell in this country.

The 1 million petition signatures, from supporters all over the world, were submitted to Prime Minister Boris Johnson together with a letter from Brian May, which reads that the UK has “the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards, and close our borders to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade”. The joint letter was co-signed by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal Aid, The Jane Goodall Institute, Viva!, and Brian May’s Save Me Trust. Petition platform Care2 also supported the petition, as did Change.org with a personal petition by TOWIE star Pete Wicks. A government e-petition also added 109,533 signatures to the total.

Queen Guitarist Brian May, in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “Fur farming was banned in this country almost twenty years ago, we showed great leadership on animal welfare then and now we have the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards again, by closing our border to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade. I urge you, Prime Minister, to take decisive action now and make Britain fur-free!”

Claire Bass, Executive Director for Humane Society International/UK, said, “Fur farming is rightly banned here, but we’re still importing the same cruelty from overseas. The government has the opportunity to end that double standard and our million signature petition today shows that there is enormous public support for a fur trade ban. The British public, along with politicians, designers, celebrities and retailers are in agreement that incarcerating and killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, the future of fashion is fur free.”

Elisa Allen, Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said, “Permitting fur imports flies in the face of the values held by the overwhelming majority of British people, who do not wish to support an industry in which animals are drowned, electrocuted, and even skinned alive. The government must listen to the will of the people and bring forward this much-needed legislation.”

Brian da Cal, FOUR PAWS UK Director said, “In excess of one million signatures have joined our calls to remove the sale of fur from our shores. We banned fur farming many years ago, but until we extend the same legal provisions to the sale of it, we cannot fully embrace what so many are demanding. Fur farming is a cruel practice and with brands, both designer and high street, removing it, it is clear that the use of fur is no longer in fashion. Now, the only step left is for the Government to recognise this and fully embrace that we want to be a Fur Free Britain.”

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive for the RSPCA said, “We want to see an end to an industry where animals are suffering and dying for fashion. Breeding animals for fur can be a cruel and unnecessary business that should have no place in the modern world. Even though fur is no longer farmed in the UK, it is still legal to import and sell it here. So the UK remains complicit in the continuation of the global fur market, profiting from this cruel international trade. It is shameful and it’s high time we got our house in order and made fur imports and sales illegal. Our petition calling for a Fur Free Britain has been supported by thousands of animal lovers and we hope the Government listens to our calls to end this horrific trade in the UK.”

Connor Jackson, CEO for Open Cages said, “I have looked into the eyes of deranged foxes circling their filthy cages, waiting to be killed for their fur. I have seen these sensitive wild animals reduced to clothing, denied even the most basic needs. It’s crystal clear that suffering is fundamental to the fur industry, and Britain is complicit with every day we continue to allow fur to be sold on our high streets.”
The majority of British people support the proposed fur sales ban. A 2020 YouGov opinion poll commissioned by HSI/UK shows that 93% of the British public do not wear real animal fur, and the words 79% of people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.

Last autumn, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years and at the end of the transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise our standards still further. That is something the Government is very keen to do.” The campaign has also received cross party political support from 140 MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 267 against real fur imports.

Fur Facts:

  • A total of 1, 065, 247 signatures have been added to the Fur Free Britain petition to date.
  • 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.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, the French government is currently debating a ban on mink fur farming, and the Irish government has made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government recently announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • 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. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals. A bill introduced in Washington state would ban the production of fur.
  • Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 12 countries 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.

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Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, e lroode@hsi.org t +27 713601104

Rodrigo Santoro, Pom Klementieff, Maggie Q and other celebrities support Humane Society International’s campaign

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI Ralph, spokes-bunny for HSI’s global campaign to ban cosmetic testing on animals

LONDON—Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars have joined forces with Humane Society International to produce a powerful stop-motion animated short film, Save Ralph, to end cosmetic testing on animals around the world. Although banned in 40 countries, the practice is still perfectly legal in most of the world, and even making a comeback in Europe, subjecting untold thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.

Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer and others have come together to help HSI change that by providing the voices for the Save Ralph film, which aims to shine a light on the suffering animals endure and engage the public and policy makers in HSI’s mission to ban it. Writer and director Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman), producer Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland) and production company AllDayEveryDay teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet maker supreme Andy Gent on the production to bring Ralph to life. The film is also being launched in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with Rodrigo Santoro, Denis Villeneuve, Rosario Dawson, H’Hen Nie and Diem My 9x voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support.

To view the short film and educational materials on the current status of animal testing and how you can help, please visit hsi.org/ralph

Troy Seidle, Humane Society International’s vice-president for research and toxicology, says: “Save Ralph is a wake-up call to European citizens and lawmakers who believe that animal testing for cosmetics is over in the EU. It’s not—it’s just been given a new name of ‘chemicals assessment’ but it’s the same old animal suffering. The decisions to perform new animal tests are coming not from companies – in fact some of the leading cosmetic and ingredient brands are furious and fighting these tests. The requirement is coming from the European Chemicals Agency which is using Europe’s chemicals law to circumvent the EU’s historic ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Regulators are demanding new chemical poisoning tests that consume the lives of thousands of animals apiece for cosmetic ingredients that have been used safely for years. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer in any type of test for cosmetic ingredients.”

The film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, voiced by Taika Waititi, being interviewed as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a toxicology lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering at this very moment in laboratories in Europe and around the world. It engages viewers to help ban animal testing of cosmetics once and for all.

Save Ralph director, Spencer Susser says: “Animals in cosmetic testing labs don’t have a choice and it’s our responsibility to do something about it. When the opportunity came up to create a new campaign for Humane Society International, I felt that stop motion was the perfect way to deliver the message. When you see the horrifying reality of the way animals are treated, you can’t help but look away. What I was hoping to do with this film was create something that delivers a message without being too heavy handed. I hope that audiences fall in love with Ralph and want to fight for him and other animals like him, so we can ban animal testing once and for all.”

Puppet master and set designer, Andy Gent says:I think the beauty of animation is that you can tell very complex stories and bring them to life in a non-threatening and educational way. In our miniature world of models and puppets using stop motion filmmaking we hope to bring attention to this mission to stop animal testing for cosmetics. We’re all very passionate about what we do, and it’d be very nice to think that this project to Save Ralph will have a greater, wider effect.” 

 Taika Waititi tweeted ahead of the launch: “This is a cool thing that is coming soon. If you don’t watch it and love it then you hate animals and we can’t be friends anymore. #SaveRalph.”

Ricky Gervais says: “Animal testing just makes me angry. There’s no justification for dripping chemicals in rabbits’ eyes or force-feeding them to rats just to make lipsticks and shampoo. Science has evolved enough to give us non-animal solutions to end this terrible cruelty—it’s time for our humanity to catch up.”

Tricia Helfer says: “I have been an animal lover for many years so I am honoured to lend my voice to this important, moving HSI campaign to end the cruelty of animal testing for cosmetics. Although we have made progress in some countries, globally there are still thousands of innocent animals just like Ralph who are made to suffer every day. Now is the time to change that.”

On the global stage, the campaign is focused on 16 priority countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations, and our partner organizations, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, are focused on legislation in the U.S. Save Ralph will shine a spotlight on all these countries, driving them toward the cruelty-free future that the public and consumers expect.

Fast facts:

  • The European Union banned all animal testing for cosmetics in 2013, yet today this celebrated precedent is being undermined by European Chemicals Agency demands that companies perform new animal tests on chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics. Read more here.
  • In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.
  • Cosmetic testing on animals is officially already banned in 40 countries. HSI and partners were instrumental in securing bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and 10 states in Brazil. Such testing is also banned in Turkey, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and in the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia. Five other U.S. states – New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York – are now considering similar bills to end animal testing of cosmetics, and a federal bill called the Humane Cosmetics Act is anticipated to be reintroduced in the Congress this year.
  • More than 2,000 “cruelty-free” beauty brands are available worldwide, including Lush, Garnier, Dove, Herbal Essences and H&M. These companies produce safe products by using ingredients with a history of safe use together with modern animal-free safety assessment tools. No single global shopping guide yet exists, but HSI recognizes LeapingBunny.org, BeautyWithoutBunnies and Logical Harmony as useful resources.
  • HSI warns that even cruelty-free cosmetics are in jeopardy if chemical safety legislation continues to demand new animal tests for chemical ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics. That’s why the #SaveRalph campaign prioritizes getting test bans in place and robustly defended.
  • In addition to pursuing legislative bans, HSI and our partners are collaborating to develop a training program in animal-free safety assessment to support smaller companies and government authorities transition from animal testing to state-of-the-art non-animal methods, which are readily available and better at assuring human safety than the animal tests they replace.

Media downloads:

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Real fur has no place in modern luxury fashion; the future is fur-free.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


RT-Images/iStock.com 

LONDON—Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received a letter from eight of Britain’s top fur-free fashion designers and retailers, urging him to make the UK the first country in the world to ban fur sales.

Designers Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett, ERDEM, Shrimps, Christopher Raeburn and Helen Moore plus luxury fashion department store Selfridges are backing Humane Society International’s #FurFreeBritain campaign and say that they are proud to support the fur-free movement.

Fur farming was banned in Britain almost two decades ago in 2003 as it was deemed too cruel an industry to support. But since then, Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals suffer miserable lives on fur farms, and from North America where animals such as coyotes are also cruelly trapped in the wild using leg hold traps banned in the UK.

Despite animal fur still being imported into the country, the number of British designers and retailers rejecting real fur continues to grow. Not only does the use of real fur contradict the ethical trajectory of many fashion companies, but it reflects consumer sentiment over many years, with a recent poll showing 93% of British citizens reject the wearing of real fur.

The designers’ letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads: “fashion, driven by consumers and enabled by innovation, is evolving to make animal fur obsolete, as more and more luxury fashion designers and high street retailers eliminate it from their collections. Our fur-free policies are informed by the beliefs and expectations of the majority of UK consumers, who reject animal fur on ethical grounds. We are proud to support the growing fur-free movement as we know that the majority of British consumers want fashion items without fur. We acknowledge and welcome Humane Society International’s #FurFreeBritain campaign.”

Read the full letter.

Recent years have seen a tremendous growth in the number of fashion designers dropping real animal fur from their collections. Some of the world’s best-known fashion labels that have adopted fur-free policies include Armani, Hugo Boss, Prada Group (Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s), Burberry, Versace, Gucci, Chanel, Coach, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg, Columbia Sportswear, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Timberland, The North Face, Zara, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomindale’s.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, says: “By proudly flying the flag for fur free fashion, these iconic British fashion designers have their finger on the pulse. They refuse to put cruelty on the catwalk because they know there is nothing glamorous about mentally deprived foxes, anally electrocuted raccoon dogs, COVID-19 infected mink and wild trapped coyotes shot in the head. The vast majority of British consumers reject fur, and as the revolting cruelty of fur is exposed, a global decline in demand for fur fashion has sent this industry into a downward spiral. Killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, even her Majesty the Queen has stopped buying new fur. So it’s time for our government to consign the fur trade to the history books where it belongs and ban the sale of fur.”

Daniella Vega, director of sustainability at Selfridges, says: “As a luxury fashion retailer we’re proud of our long-standing no fur policy which has been in place for more than fifteen years. Our customers care about animal welfare and we are committed to providing ethical and sustainable products. There are many alternative materials for brands and designers to use; the future is fur-free and we support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK.”

Helen Moore, founder and director of Helen Moore, says: “We’re a British business dedicated to designing and making gorgeous luxury faux fur products in the Devon countryside. We pride ourselves on producing affordable luxury clothing and homewares without compromising our ethics, that’s why we will never use real animal fur.  We believe that it is unjust and unnecessary to cause suffering to animals just so their fur can be used in fashion. We’re delighted to see more and more designers and retailers around the globe are turning their backs on real animal fur and opting for beautiful luxury alternatives instead. We are proud to support Humane Society International/UK’s Fur Free Britain campaign and we urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban the sale of real animal fur”.

Fur Facts:

  • More than 1,500 brands have signed up to the Fur Free Retailer scheme. The most recent brand to do so was adidas, joining the likes of H&M, Jack Wolfskin, Lacoste, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Mulberry, Next, The North Face and Zara.
  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and rabbit – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, France committed to phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government just announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • 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. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals. A bill introduced in Washington State would ban the production of fur.
  • Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 11 countries have been found to be infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls in several countries. 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.

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager: Lroode@hsi.org; +27 713601104

Campaigners report multiple violations to Chinese authorities incl. lack of COVID-19 disease control despite transmission risks

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Raccoon dogs and foxes intensively farmed for fur in Asia, filmed November-December 2020.

LONDON—Disturbing video evidence of extreme animal suffering on multiple fur farms in China has been released by Humane Society International as part of its #FurFreeBritain campaign calling on the UK government to ban the sale of fur imported from countries overseas including China, Finland, Poland and Italy. In 2019 the UK imported £55,928,562 of fur from other countries despite having banned fur farming on animal cruelty grounds 20 years ago, a double standard that HSI hopes to see an end.

The investigations took place at 13 fur farms between November 2020 – December 2020 and reveal breaches of many of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control, with a disturbing admission from one farmer that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants for human consumption by unsuspecting diners. On another farm, raccoon dogs were filmed being so ineptly electrocuted that experts say they will have been rendered paralysed but still conscious while experiencing a slow, agonising death from cardiac arrest. Rows of foxes were also filmed repetitively spinning and pacing in their tiny, barren, wire cages, the classic symptoms of mental decline from environmental deprivation.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “This is the sickening reality of life and death for animals on fur farms, a million miles from the glamorous image the fur trade tries to portray. It is heartbreaking to know that the first and only time these raccoon dogs see the world outside of their cage is the moment they are wrenched from it with the agony of a high voltage electric shock paralysing their bodies. In addition to the cramped conditions, our investigators also witnessed an almost total lack of disease control and health protection measures on fur farms, which is extremely worrying considering that mink, raccoon dogs and foxes are all capable of contracting coronaviruses. The UK imports millions of pounds worth of fur from China as well as many other countries, and there is absolutely nothing to stop fur from farms just like those we filmed at from being sold in UK shops and webstores.”

On several fur farms, raccoon dogs were seen being electrocuted using a double-spiked lance attached to a high voltage battery. One by one the animals are seen stabbed with the lance in random parts of the body, delivering an agonising electric shock that paralyses but doesn’t instantly kill them because the incorrect method used doesn’t pass through the brain.

Professor Alastair MacMillan, HSI’s veterinary adviser, said: “The animals in this video are being subjected to violent and chaotic electrocution in the body and not in the brain, which means they are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms. Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilised by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”

Despite HSI’s investigation taking place during the global pandemic, none of the fur farms followed basic biosecurity measures, with disease control regulations routinely ignored. Contrary to Chinese regulations, none of the farms had disinfection stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. In light of at least 422 outbreaks of COVID-19 on 289 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020, and raccoon dogs and foxes also being capable of contracting coronaviruses, the lack of adherence to safety measures is extremely concerning. HSI has provided its investigation evidence to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and in London.

China is home to the largest fur producing industry in the world, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019 including for export overseas to countries including the United Kingdom. In 2019 the UK imported £5.3 million of fur from China alone, and over the past five years (for which full HMRC data is available 2015 – 2019) the UK imported £25.5 million of fur from China. The top five fur exporting countries to the UK in 2019 were Italy, France, China, Turkey and the United States.

Senior government insiders recently confirmed that a fur import ban is “definitely” coming down the line, citing links between mink farms and the spread of COVID-19, as well as the cruel conditions on farms.

Despite the horrific cruelty found at these particular farms, ample evidence demonstrates that animal suffering is an inherent consequence of the global fur industry regardless of the country. HSI’s Claire Bass said: “Although this investigation took place in China, similarly distressing scenes of mentally ill animals being kept in small, barren, factory-farm style cages can also be seen in fur farms across Europe and North America. Factory farming animals for fur inherently results in appalling suffering and an unacceptable public health risk. The UK Government can’t close fur farms overseas, of course, but it can stop the UK providing a market for fur, so we welcome signs that the government is serious about banning fur sales. Such a ban would send a clear message that we won’t be trading in animal cruelty for the sake of frivolous, outdated and unnecessary fashion accessories.” 

Recent exposés on fur farms around the world include:

  • POLAND: Cannibalism, self-aggression, open wounds and paralysis on mink fur farm in Poland. (Open Cages, Sept 2020). Foxes abandoned and left to starve to death on a fur farm, even cannibalising each other. (Open Cages, Oct 2020)
  • FRANCE: Graphic animal suffering including mink exhibiting mentally disturbed stereotypical behaviour, mink with injured eyes and tails, animals with paralysed and even necrotic legs, and skin diseases. (One Voice, Aug 2020)
  • NETHERLANDS: Mink being roughly yanked out of their cages by the tail or hind leg, and thrown from a distance into the mobile gas chamber, in breach of EU regulations. (Animal Rights, Nov 2020)
  • ITALY: Widespread violations of SARS-CoV-2 biosecurity measures on mink fur farms. (LAV, Nov 2020)
  • FINLAND: Dead mink and foxes, animals suffering from untreated wounds including a live mink whose head was partially cannibalised by cage mates. (HSI and Oikeutta eläimille, Oct 2019)
  • CANADA: A mink farm in Ontario has been charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty following a year-long investigation that documented animals with open, untreated wounds and infections. (LCA, May 2018)

Humane Society International is calling on the UK government to end the double standard of allowing the sale of fur from overseas despite the UK having banned fur farming nearly two decades ago. A YouGov poll shows that 93% of Brits refuse to wear fur and 72% support a fur sales ban.

Download photos and video from the investigation

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org