Humane Society International


Animal protection and conservation NGOs, policy makers, IWC commissioners gather for launch event with messages of support also from Dame Judi Dench, Leona Lewis, Chris Packham and Tracy Edwards MBE

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Minke whales
Adrian Baddele/istock

LONDON–Dr Jane Goodall DBE, UN Messenger of Peace, joined with many of the world’s leading animal protection and conservation organisations, to urge the 88 member countries of the International Whaling Commission to adopt a new 50-Year Vision to save whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction in the face of increasing ocean threats. are Many species are facing an increased threat of extinction because of fisheries bycatch; chemical, plastic and noise pollution; marine debris; ship strikes; habitat loss; the urgent climate crisis as well as continued direct persecution from commercial killing and dolphin drive hunts.

The coalition of NGOs, including the Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Society International, Born Free Foundation, OceanCare, IFAW and Environmental Investigation Agency, launched the 50-Year Vision at a virtual event, to mark the 75th anniversary of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Originally established in 1946 to conserve whales in order to maximise hunting quotas, the IWC has since evolved to address myriad anthropogenic threats that pose an immediate danger for many populations of cetaceans. Of the 90 species, 12 subspecies and 28 subpopulations of cetaceans that have been identified and assessed to date, 22 are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’, 22 as ‘Endangered’ and 16 as ‘Vulnerable’. Without globally co-ordinated conservation actions, many species and populations will go extinct within our lifetimes, the NGOs warn.

Giving the keynote speech, Dr Jane Goodall DBE said: “Some 80% of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean. Our seas, along with our forests, are literally the lungs of our planet. Tragically, the vast marine habitat is increasingly threatened by our human actions. We are polluting it with toxic substances, large areas become acidified, the water is warming, commercial fishing has endangered many species, and its biggest and so loved residents – whales, dolphins and porpoises – are suffering. 

Unbelievably, despite a 40 year ban, many still suffer the cruelty of commercial whaling. Then around 300,000 cetaceans die when they’re accidentally captured in fishing gear. They drown.  A number of species and some populations are now facing extinction. There are solutions, but our governments must prioritise them and also recognise and support the International Whaling Commission as the organisation to coordinate these global priorities.” 

The 50-Year Vision (supported by more than 50 NGOs worldwide) calls on the IWC and its 88 member countries to ensure that conservation urgency is at the centre of global efforts to save cetacean species from decline. It warns that the degradation of the oceans has accelerated rapidly in recent years, with ocean temperatures warming up to 40% faster on average than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously estimated, and more than 150 million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in the oceans since the 1950s. Ocean acidification has also increased by 26% since pre-industrial times, global maritime traffic has vastly increased, as have ambient noise levels from shipping, seismic surveys, exploration and military activities. An estimated 300,000 cetaceans are killed annually as bycatch in fisheries. These challenges are compounded by the loss of critical habitat to climate change.

A host of celebrities supported the 50-Year Vision at its launch event, with video messages from naturalist and campaigner Chris Packham, actress Dame Judi Dench, Singer Leona Lewis and world-renowned sailor Tracy Edwards MBE. Download the celebrity videos here.

The NGOs believe the IWC’s 75th anniversary provides the perfect opportunity ahead of its 68th meeting in October 2022 to define a clear 50-year Vision that goes beyond managing whaling and establishes the IWC at the centre of global efforts to conserve all cetaceans.

The 50-Year Vision outlines that, looking forward, the IWC’s priorities must be focused on conservation, and recommends specifically that the IWC:

Maintain the ban on commercial whaling which is not a viable industry in the 21st century. Demand for whale meat has fallen to unprecedented levels in the remaining nations conducting commercial whaling, and the industry is now dependent on significant government subsidies. The very nature of cetaceans – long lived, slow breeding, depleted and vulnerable to growing environmental threats – means that commercial whaling is inherently ill-suited to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals such as providing food security, and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Manage Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling. The IWC’s most important whaling management responsibility is the regulation of Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW). It is vital that the IWC maintain a clear distinction between ASW and commercial and special permit whaling, to ensure the integrity of the moratorium and meet the genuine nutritional, cultural and subsistence needs of indigenous peoples

Ensure whale watching is effectively managed. Whale watching is an industry worth more than US$2 billion, enjoyed by over 13 million people in 119 countries each year. However, as the success of whale watching continues to grow, the IWC must ensure it is conducted responsibly and is biologically sustainable.

Implement IWC Sanctuaries as Effective Marine Protected Areas. The IWC took the visionary step of designating two massive protected areas at a time (1979 and 1994) when marine reserves were a relatively new concept. Today, there are more than 900 marine protected areas providing habitat for cetaceans globally but not all have conservation goals or management plans to mitigate threats to cetaceans.

Consolidate the IWC’s welfare mandate. The IWC is uniquely positioned to ensure that the pain and suffering of cetaceans in both hunting and non-hunting situations is understood and minimised. It is already building a global response to entanglement but must expand its work and its collaboration with other organisations to better understand, measure and address other non-hunting welfare threats to cetaceans.

Increase collaboration, skills-sharing and capacity building in member governments, on ocean conservation, global biodiversity, sustainable development goals, harmonised research and mitigation efforts, to reverse the trifecta of the climate, pollution and biodiversity crises.

Ensure that decision-making reflects that the ecological contributions of cetaceans are a public good. Cetaceans make vital ecological contributions to the health and productivity of the oceans, including enhancing fish populations by increasing primary productivity, sequestering carbon, and promoting biodiversity. The IWC’s growing expertise in this area will enable it to leverage funding for cetacean conservation from new sources, including international institutions that fund climate mitigation and other conservation efforts.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International says: “As the health of the world’s oceans dramatically declines, cetaceans are in trouble, and that’s a tragedy not just because they are magnificent and sentient animals but because they also play a vital ecological role. Our 50-Year Vision offers a vital strategic plan for the IWC to help save whales, dolphins and porpoises in these most perilous of times.” 

ENDS 

Download photos of cetaceans here.

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

Background on the IWC 

Almost three million great whales were killed in commercial whaling operations in the 20th century. As whale populations declined but competition for the remaining whales increased, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), which established the International Whaling Commission (IWC), was agreed in 1946 to conserve whale populations and regulate the whaling industry. Since then, the IWC has been the primary international organisation for the management and conservation of whales and is recognised in international law as such.

In 1982, the IWC made the visionary decision to ban commercial whaling worldwide, preventing the extinction of several populations and species. Almost 40 years later, despite recovery in some whale populations, many are nowhere near their pre-exploitation levels. Maintaining the ban on commercial whaling remains critical to ensuring that whales have the best chance of survival and recovery in what is now an increasingly degraded and rapidly changing marine environment.

Yves Salomon, Moncler & Max Mara sales staff filmed at Harrods’ fur salon provide misleading information about conditions on factory fur farms

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Kristo Muurimaa/Oikeutta eläimille

LONDON—Sales staff representing global designers Yves Salomon, Moncler and Max Mara in the fur salon at London’s Harrods department store, provided misleading information about conditions for animals on fur farms to a secret shopper filming for animal protection charity Humane Society International/UK. Sales staff for the fashion companies—all wearing Harrods-branded name badges—made misleading claims about the deprived environment in which caged animals are kept, and the way they are killed, when questioned about farmed fox fur from Finland.

The sales rep for Yves Salomon falsely claimed that foxes on fur farms are not kept in cages, telling the undercover customer that they are kept in “their own private space” in “separate rooms” “exactly” like Battersea (Dogs and Cats Home). The customer was repeatedly told that foxes are not kept in a cage and even that “they have enough space to play and everything”. In truth, the animals are confined in small, barren, wire factory-farm style cages one-metre squared. These pitiful conditions were exposed this week in HSI’s undercover investigation at three Finnish fox fur farms that showed animals in cages barely longer than their body length, nose to tail. Many of the foxes also suffered with deformed feet and diseased eyes.

Another Yves Salomon sales rep at Harrods gave HSI/UK’s undercover shopper the false assurance that before the animals are killed “they put them down with an injection” so that “they are literally put to sleep” when in truth foxes (and raccoon dogs) are anally electrocuted without any anaesthetic. When our shopper expressed concern about some videos she had seen of animals suffering in the fur trade she was told ‘it’s only propaganda, madam’.

Moncler’s sales assistant made the astonishing implication that its Finnish fox fur was just a by-product, saying “we take our fur from animals who were already taken for other purposes, like for example meat or something else”, despite the breeding of foxes for human consumption being illegal in the EU.

Humane Society International/UK which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, and Finnish animal campaigners Oikeutta Eläimille, visited three fur farms in the Ostrobothnia region of Finland, a country that has exported more than £11million of fur to the UK since 2000 despite the same fur farm cruelty being banned in the UK. Photos and video can be downloaded here. Filming took place in October 2021.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, who visited the fur farms, said: “It’s hardly a surprise that staff in Harrods don’t want to describe the grim reality of life for animals on fur farms, because it would surely leave their customers horrified. The week before speaking to five Harrods’ sales assistants who all creatively cloaked the cruelty of the fur trade, I visited several supposedly ‘high welfare’ Finnish fur farms and come face to face with the abject misery and suffering of thousands of foxes locked up in barren metre-squared battery cages their whole lives. Before Christmas they will all have been killed by anal electrocution, and the luxury lies of fur trade PR spin will market their lifeless fur to consumers.

The claim that fur farms are ‘like Battersea’, a rescue home for pets, was a whole new level of delusion. Fur farms and Battersea are like night and day in animal welfare terms. A Harrods manager’s claims that their fur is ‘ethically and sustainably sourced’ bears no scrutiny whatsoever. There is nothing ethical about any fur farming, certified or otherwise. We urge Harrods to stop peddling lies and stop selling fur cruelty. And the sooner the UK government bans the import and sale of animal fur, the sooner we can stop bankrolling this brutal industry.”

Max Mara’s sales staff told the investigator that its fur is certified by the fur trade’s SAGA Furs** assurance scheme which, they claimed, means “those ones are not cruel, not made in a cruel way…. It means that the animals don’t suffer.” However, at two SAGA Furs certified fox fur farms visited by HSI/UK, foxes with infected eyes and missing ears were filmed in woefully cramped cages, each one empty but for a single piece of wood or bone which passes for “enrichment”.

Fox fur originating from Finland is used by brands including Fendi, Moncler, Yves Salomon, Woolrich, Herno and Max Mara, and is seen in stores including Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Flannels.

Finland is the biggest producer of fox fur in Europe and the second biggest in the world, exporting millions of pounds worth of fur around the world including to the UK. Since banning fur farming in 2000 on ethical grounds, the UK has imported more than £850million of fur from a range of countries including France, Italy, Poland, China and the United States. Through its #FurFreeBritain campaign, HSI/UK is urging the government to end this by banning UK fur imports and sales, a move supported by 72% of the British public. The government is currently considering a fur sales ban and recently held a public consultation which received 30,000 responses.

HSI/UK has written to Harrods.

Please sign and share HSI’s petition calling for a UK fur sales ban: www.hsi.org/FurFreeBritain

Facts: 

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide: foxes, raccoon dogs, mink, chinchilla and rabbits on fur farms and coyotes, beavers and other animals trapped in the wild—that’s equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Finland rears and kills between 1-2 million foxes every year.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased out in 15 European countries including Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland’s cabinet has approved legislation that would see fur farming banned from 2022; and legislation to ban mink farming is currently being debated by politicians in France. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Ukraine are also considering proposals to ban fur farming.
  • HSI/UK’s #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban is supported by NGOs including the RSPCA, PETA UK and Four Paws UK, as well as celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney, Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais and Leona Lewis.
  • In 2021 Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. Fur sales are also banned in the U.S. state of California, the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood, and the towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts and Ann Arbor in Michigan.
  • Global fashion designers and retailers who have dropped fur cruelty include Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel and Prada.
  • A 2020 YouGov opinion poll reveals that 79% of Brits most closely associate fashion brands selling fur with negative words: ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.
  • Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. All fabrics have an eco-footprint, but when compared to others, fur scores badly in terms of the C02 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of carnivorous animals on a farm, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the cocktail of toxic chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to stop the fur and skin from rotting.

Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Notes

*Faces have been pixilated and voices altered to protect the sales staffs’ identity.
**SAGA is the fur trade’s certification scheme which claims SAGA certified farms have good animal health and welfare and provide safe and stimulating housing, as well as good farm hygiene and feed that fulfils nutritional needs in each production phase.
Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only.  Such reference does not constitute or imply endorsement by Humane Society International or any its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. The views and opinions of interviewees expressed in the article do not necessarily state or accurately reflect those of Humane Society International or any of its affiliates. Links and access by hypertext to other websites is provided as a convenience only and does not indicate or imply any endorsement with respect to any of the content on such website nor any of the views expressed thereon.

Finnish and SAGA-assured fox fur is used by global designers and retailers including Harrods and Fendi

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Fox on a fur farm
HSI

LONDON—An undercover investigation by Humane Society International/UK and Finnish animal campaigners Oikeutta Eläimille reveals deplorable conditions and distressing animal suffering on fur farms in Finland, a country that has exported more than £11million of fur to the UK since 2000 despite the same fur farm cruelty being banned in the UK. Fox fur originating from Finland is used by brands including Fendi, Moncler, Yves Salomon, Woolrich, Herno and Max Mara, and is seen in stores including Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Flannels.

The fur trade claims that almost 100% of fox and raccoon dog fur farms in Finland, and 96% of mink fur farms, are certified by the fur trade’s SAGA Furs* assurance scheme promising “the highest level of animal welfare”. So, Humane Society International/UK, which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, took high-profile media veterinarian and animal welfare campaigner Dr Marc Abraham OBE to see for himself the grim reality for animals behind the fur trade’s glossy marketing. They visited three fur farms in the Ostrobothnia region of Finland, two of which are SAGA certified, and they found foxes in small, barren cages suffering with deformed feet, diseased eyes, missing ears and obesity.

Finland is the biggest producer of fox fur in Europe and the second biggest in the world, exporting millions of pounds worth of fur around the world including to the UK. Since banning fur farming in 2000 on ethical grounds, the UK has imported more than £850million of fur from a range of countries including France, Italy, Poland, China and the United States, with more than £11million worth of fur from Finland alone. Through its #FurFreeBritain campaign, HSI/UK is urging the government to end this by banning UK fur imports and sales, a move supported by 72% of the British public. The government is currently considering a fur sales ban and recently held a public consultation which received 30,000 responses.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, who visited the fur farms, said: “Fur trade buzzwords about welfare ring incredibly hollow when you are staring into the eyes of an animal tormented by a life of deprivation for a frivolous fashion item that nobody needs. Most fashion-forward designers have gone fur-free because of the indefensible cruelty. But to those designers who still use fur, and to the UK government that still allows British businesses to trade in fur, our message is clear – it’s time to stop being complicit in this cruelty. It’s a clear double standard that the UK is outsourcing to countries like Finland the very same fur farm cruelty we banned here two decades ago.”

Veterinarian Dr Marc Abraham OBE said: “As a vet and campaigner who has dedicated my life to animal welfare, it was not only truly depressing to seeing the appalling state of these foxes, but still worse to know that the UK is 100% complicit in this legal fur trade cruelty. What I witnessed first-hand was shameful from an animal welfare point of view, row upon row of pitiful animals imprisoned in tiny cages, barely larger than the length of their body from nose to tail. Many of the foxes we saw had painfully swollen eyes, deformed feet with overgrown claws from having to stand on the wire floor, as well as poor body condition and obesity, not to mention self-mutilation, the clear sign of psychological trauma they must suffer as wild animals without appropriate enrichment.

It must be mental torture being denied the freedom to run and exercise in their natural woodland environment that they can clearly view surrounding their cages, which their instincts are telling them to explore 24/7, but to which, tragically, they will never have access during their short lives. The UK government assured us that after Brexit it would consider what could be done in terms of a UK fur sales ban, and observing such high levels of animal suffering on those Finnish fur farms, leaves me in no doubt that right now is the time to make good on that promise.”

Two of the farms held obese “monster foxes” bred with huge pelts and rolls of fat folded over their body in order to increase the volume of fur that can be harvested. In 2017 the fur trade stated it would put an end to the breeding of oversized foxes, and yet this and previous investigations continue to expose their existence.

Kristo Muurimaa from Finnish animal protection group Oikeutta Eläimille, said: “I have visited more than a hundred fur farms across Finland and every single one is as horrific as the last. To have a respected and decorated veterinarian come to Finland to witness first-hand the animal suffering, is really important in exposing the truth about the fur industry.”

Facts: 

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide, on fur farms and trapped in the wild—that’s equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Finland rears and kills between 1-2 million foxes every year.
  • Fur farming is not only cruel to animals, it also presents risks to public health. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been documented on 447 mink fur farms in 12 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020. A June letter signed by over 60 veterinarians and virologists highlighted the potential for fur farms to act as reservoirs for the virus and the potential for fur farms to create future zoonotic diseases
  • The World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) ad hoc Group on COVID-19 and Safe Trade in Animals and Animal Products has concluded that raw mink skins cannot be considered a safe commodity for international trade.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland’s cabinet has approved legislation that would see fur farming banned effective from 2022; and legislation to ban mink farming is currently being debated by politicians in France, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Ukraine.
  • 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.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, major online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter, Farfetch and MyTheresa have adopted fur-free policies.
  • Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Whilst all materials have some eco-footprint, when compared to other textiles, fur takes a significant toll in terms of the C02 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of carnivorous animals on a farm, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the cocktail of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.

Download Photos and Videos from the Fur Farm

Download a Video of Marc Abraham on the Fur Farm

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

*SAGA is a fur certification scheme which claims SAGA certified farms have good animal health and welfare and provide safe and stimulating housing. As well as good farm hygiene and feed that fulfils nutritional needs in each production phase.

Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only.  Such reference does not constitute or imply endorsement by Humane Society International or any its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. The views and opinions of interviewees expressed in the article do not necessarily state or accurately reflect those of Humane Society International or any of its affiliates. Links and access by hypertext to other websites is provided as a convenience only and does not indicate or imply any endorsement with respect to any of the content on such website nor any of the views expressed thereon.

We can’t tackle climate crisis without cutting intensive animal farming as world’s second largest human-caused GHG emitter

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


dhughes9/iStock.com

LONDON—As COP26 prepares to reveal the final pledges focused on cutting emissions from energy, transport and other sectors, campaigners from Humane Society International, one of the largest global animal protection NGOs in the world, say the total omission of targets to reduce livestock farming and cut meat and dairy production and consumption, represents a ludicrous failure considering the sector is the world’s second largest emitter of human-induced greenhouse gases.

Stefanie McNerney, plant based solutions manager at Humane Society International, says: “Whilst there were many conversations at COP26 side events and press conferences about the urgent need for global food system reform to cut meat and dairy production and consumption, this vital climate mitigation strategy was depressingly absent from the COP26 leader negotiations. Current pledges on methane, coal, forests and transport still look set to put us way off target to limit global temperature rise, so it is a ludicrous failure to ignore the opportunity to limit one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, animal agriculture. We need policies and targets that shift farming toward plant-based food production, and the clear lack of ambition to do so is deeply troubling. We have reached a stage in the climate crisis where so called technical solutions such as cattle feed additives are nowhere near enough to tackle emissions from this sector. The climate clock is ticking and it is well past time to move beyond these low-impact greenwashing distractions offered by Big Ag that merely perpetuate the growth of an unsustainable industry. The science is clear that that’s not an option. Will governments follow the science and plan a just transition to a more climate-resilient, plant-centric food system, or will we be waiting until the cows come home for them to stop ignoring the cow in the room?” 

Key points:

  • Despite world leaders at COP26 acknowledging that food production not only contributes to climate change, but also holds one of the keys to mitigating it, dialogues around this sector lacked ambition, with most official conversations focusing on low-impact strategies such as modifying livestock feed, tackling nitrous oxide in fertilizer and rewilding, whilst completely omitting discussion of high impact actions such as livestock reduction and diet change.
  • HSI welcomes the pledges on methane reductions and bringing an end to deforestation. However, animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to both methane emissions and deforestation, and these issues cannot be addressed without reducing global livestock numbers and shifting to more plant-centric food production and consumption.
  • Diverting the discussion toward short-sighted mitigation tactics whilst willfully ignoring and even shooting down the topic of livestock reduction and diet change is nothing short of greenwashing by the livestock industry. Governments that are serious about climate change must address emissions from animal agriculture, and that means reducing the number of animals raised for consumption and transforming our food system to a more sustainable, resilient, plant-centric system that is just for all.
  • On the subject of missing the point, in the draft CMA decision by the COP26 president, the words ‘animal agriculture’ and ‘farming’, let alone ‘livestock reduction’ do not even feature once.
  • The other cow in the room was the cow served on the COP plates. The provision of meat on the menu at a climate conference was disappointing. The CO2equivalent labelling on all food served at the conference clearly demonstrated the very large carbon footprint of beef dishes compared to plant-based options. The juxtaposition of emissions between a beef burger weighing in at a hefty 3.3 kg COe compared to a plant-based burger at just 0.2 kg COe literally served up an obvious mitigation strategy on a plate—one that was a glaring omission from the COP26 negotiations.

HSI’s #TheCowInTheRoom campaign called on COP26 to acknowledge and act on the climate damaging impacts of intensive animal agriculture. The campaign has the backing of leading plant-based food companies and investors including Beyond Investing, Mosa Meat, Eat Just, Wicked Kitchen and Linda McCartney Foods, as well as celebrities such as Moby, Billie Eilish, Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Cumming, Alicia Silverstone, Mary McCartney, Leona Lewis, Martin Freeman, Lily Cole and Stephen Fry. Earlier this week the campaigners handed in a petition of more than 70,000 signatures with campaign partners ProVeg International and Four Paws.

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

YouGov poll shows over half of Brits support government-led campaign promoting plant-based foods. If Europe is to achieve its climate goals by 2030, it must reduce meat consumption and incentivise the consumption of plant-rich diets.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

GLASGOW—Some of the world’s biggest plant-based food manufacturers and investors including Beyond Investing, Eat Just, Linda McCartney Foods and Wicked Kitchen have added their voice to #TheCowInTheRoom campaign at the COP26 climate change conference, calling on world leaders to stop ignoring animal agriculture in climate change mitigation policies and targets. The letter comes as a new YouGov opinion poll shows that over half of Brits (51%) would support the UK government initiating a joint campaign with supermarkets and food service / retail companies to actively promote the benefits of plant-based foods.

In an open letter to COP26 presented at the conference by Humane Society International, together with ProVeg International and Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, 16 companies urge world leaders to include animal agriculture, and meat and dairy reduction targets, in formal COP26 discussions. A citizen petition of over 70,000 signatures was also submitted to COP26 by the campaigners, with the backing of some of the world’s biggest celebrities including Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Billie Eilish, Alan Cumming, Alicia Silverstone, Leona Lewis, Lily Cole and Stephen Fry.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said from COP26: “We simply cannot afford to ignore the cow in the room any longer—the science is clear that targets to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption are crucial if we are to meet internationally agreed upon climate targets. But while there is clear consumer and corporate appetite for a plant-based shift, politicians appear to be asleep at the wheel, failing to grasp both the urgent need and multiple opportunities to catalyse the normalisation of plant-centric diets. The Methane Pledge is a prime example of this; to reduce this potent GHG we simply need fewer cows, not just technological fixes that produce slightly less burpy cows.”

The food system is responsible for 30% of the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which 17% is attributable to livestock production. Moving to more plant-rich diets could decrease the EU’s carbon footprint by 50%.

ProVeg says European meat and dairy reduction targets should be bold to achieve Europe’s climate goals. Based on leading research, ProVeg calculates that by 2040:

  • The consumption of meat needs to be reduced by 79%.
  • The consumption of milk and dairy needs to be reduced by between 74 and 83%.
  • The consumption of eggs needs to be reduced by 68%.
  • The consumption of fish and seafood needs to be reduced by 65%.

Jasmijn de Boo, vice-president at ProVeg International, comments: “The urgency of reducing our global intake of meat, fish, eggs and dairy to tackle the climate crisis must be addressed, especially now that world leaders have reached an agreement during COP26 to tackle deforestation, and set a 30% methane reduction target. We need to move towards more plant-rich diets now to save our forests and to save the planet. If Europe is to achieve its climate goals by 2030, it will have to reduce the current intake of meat by 79% and incentivise the consumption of plant-rich diets. We need to go further and show leadership in order to have a just and fair global transition to more plant-based food production and consumption.”

Dr. Ming-nan Lin from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and vice superintendent of Dalin Tzu Chi General Hospital, comments: “Global leaders and the private sector must engage with faith leaders and community partners to inspire respect for all life, with compassion and love. There are clear connections between human health and planetary health. Zoonosis, vector-borne diseases, and certain non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease have inextricable links to our dietary habits. The public health benefits of a transition towards a plant-centric food system has undeniable co-benefits to the health and wellbeing of the planet as well.”

The animal agriculture industry breeds, raises and slaughters more than 88 billion land animals globally every year. The industry’s emissions—a staggering 20% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions–are on par with those emitted by the entire global transportation sector, and yet targets and strategies to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption are absent from climate change discussions.

Scientists, too, are calling for the need to transform our global food system into one that supports and protects planetary and human health. The 107 experts who prepared the report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined with high confidence that policies operating across the food system, including policies that influence dietary choices, would enable more sustainable land-use management, result in enhanced food security and low emissions trajectories, contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, and improve public health.

Notes to editor:

  • Data on mentioned reduction targets can be found here.
  • Survey figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,749 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th – 30th October 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  • Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only, and does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or approval by Humane Society International or any of its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. The views and opinions of interviewees expressed in the article do not necessarily state or accurately reflect those of Humane Society International or any of its affiliates.

ENDS

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Countries producing and consuming the most meat and dairy must include reduction targets, says Humane Society International

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Cow
hiphotos35/istock

LONDON—Musician and animal activist Moby has called on the COP26 climate change conference to make the climate-damaging impacts of animal agriculture central to the agenda if world leaders hope to make meaningful pledges to avert catastrophic climate breakdown. Moby sent his message to COP26 President Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP via a video he produced with animal protection NGO Humane Society International, as part of its #TheCowInTheRoom campaign which is also supported by other celebrities including Billie Eilish, Joaquin Phoenix, Mary McCartney, Martin Freeman and Ricky Gervais, and more than 50 global animal welfare and environmental organisations.

Moby said: “When talking about animal agriculture—meat and dairy production—to people, a lot of them are not aware of the environmental consequences… Animal agriculture is one of the, if not the leading, cause of deforestation globally. To create a stable climate, we need to reform our global food system. We need to stop using animals for food, because animal agriculture is the third leading cause of climate change. You cannot practically and effectively address climate change without ending our alliance with meat and dairy production… Meat and dairy is destroying the only home we have. Ultimately, we have to address these issues, or these issues will destroy us.”

Watch the Video

The video, which is running across social media and will also be viewed at the COP26 event, highlights that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5%—16.5% of human induced greenhouse gas emissions globally, on par with the global emissions from all transportation systems, yet is largely neglected by countries around the world in climate change mitigation strategies and commitments. The livestock industry is growing at a dramatic rate, with more than 88 billion land animals raised and slaughtered every year. As this man-made industry continues to grow, estimates indicate that by 2030, the livestock sector is projected to account for nearly 50 percent of the global emissions budget if we are to achieve the 1.5°C warming target set out in the Paris Agreement. In addition to significant greenhouse gasses, Moby also addresses that the farm animal production sector is the single largest man-made user of land, and a major driver of deforestation, species extinction, land degradation, exhaustion of water resources and pollution.

Moby and Humane Society International hope that formal recognition at COP26 of animal agriculture as a driver of climate change will encourage world leaders to commit to vital meat and dairy production and consumption reduction strategies to help meet the Paris Agreement’s below 2°C target.

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president for farm animal welfare, says: “Reducing the environmental impacts of our diets and transforming our global food systems to be more plant-based are some of the most effective climate-mitigation measures we can take, and the need to do so has never been more urgent. Despite this, the countries producing and consuming the most meat and dairy have yet to include reduction targets alongside other mitigation efforts for the primary climate change drivers in their Nationally Determined Contributions. If we want to prevent a climate change catastrophe, it is imperative that world leaders acknowledge and act to cut every major driver of climate change, including industrial animal agriculture. This industry is quite simply unsustainable. COP26 offers a vital opportunity for world leaders to make meaningful commitments to tackle climate change, restore biodiversity and help reduce the number of animals suffering on factory farms. We are pleased to see this message from  Moby and hope that Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP acknowledges his urgent and incredibly important message.”

Moby shares his top tips for people who want to consume more plant-based food: eat the plant-based version of the foods you already love, like spaghetti and (vegan) meatballs, and go online to educate yourself – ask yourself whether your actions are aligned with your values and intentions.

The public can join in calling on world leaders to recognise the impact of factory farming on climate change at COP26 by signing #TheCowInTheRoom petition at hsi.org/thecowintheroom. To find out more about the impact of intensive animal agriculture on our planet and the lives of animals around the world, visit hsi.org/issues/climate-change.

Farm Facts:

  • Animal agriculture is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
  • Consuming fewer animal products and eating more plant-based foods helps protect the world’s water supply. Producing large quantities of meat, milk and eggs requires huge amounts of water to grow feed, clean enclosures, hydrate the animals, as well as to process animal products. Producing 1 kg of chicken requires 4,325 litres of water on average, compared to the 1,644 litres needed to produce 1 kg of cereals. (Hoekstra 2015)
  • Eating more plant-based meals will reduce the amount of land used by agriculture. Worldwide, we need more land to raise and feed farm animals than for any other single purpose. More than 97% of soymeal and more than 60% of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals. (FAO)
  • The UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report warned that the climate crisis is poised to get worse if greenhouse gas emissions continue to surge, and that the future of the planet depends on the choices that humanity makes today.

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Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: +44 (0)7989 972 423; whiggins@hsi.org

Boris Johnson urged to ban UK fur sales to end fur trade ticking time bomb

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


G20 fur signatures handin
Martina Pluda/HSI

ROME—Ahead of the G20 meeting this month in Rome, a petition of almost 900,000 signatures gathered by the Fur Free Alliance urging world leaders to permanently end fur farming to prevent continued outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 as well as protect against future zoonotic pandemics has been submitted. World leaders including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have also received a letter from the global coalition of animal NGOs, urging action. The UK banned fur farming in 2003 but still imports millions of pounds worth of fur from overseas, a practice that Fur Free Alliance member Humane Society International/UK is calling to be banned. The petition and letters come in the wake of 446 outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 on mink fur farms in the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Greece, Spain, Sweden, France, Italy, Latvia, the United States and Canada, with the most recent outbreak in Spain this week.

A growing number of experts express grave concerns about the human health risks of the fur trade. In its report last November, the European Centre for Disease Control warned that the evolution of the virus in mink could undermine the effectiveness of vaccines in humans, and that “continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms may eventually give rise to other variants of concern.” In June this year, 67 virologists, epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, veterinarians and animal behaviourists from across the globe called for action to end fur farming, and the World Organisation for Animal Health’s ad hoc Group on COVID-19 and Safe Trade in Animals and Animal Products has concluded that raw mink skins cannot be considered a safe commodity for international trade.

Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International, says: “Governments cannot respond to the COVID-19 crisis on mink fur farms simply by monitoring outbreaks and allowing fur farmers to continue business as usual. The appalling conditions on fur farms make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. Disease transmission experts warn that it is a matter of when, and not if, another deadly virus hits if we continue to keep animals in these unnatural and horrific conditions. Now, hundreds of thousands of global citizens are also urging G20 leaders to publicly acknowledge that fur farming must end.”

Fourteen countries including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hungary and Lithuania have already acted to ban fur farming, and the practice is currently suspended in Denmark, Italy and Sweden. However, many countries across Europe, China, Russia and North America continue to intensively rear tens of millions of fox, mink and raccoon dogs, all of which are species susceptible to coronaviruses. For the sake of fur fashion, these animals spend their entire lives confined to tiny, barren, wire cages that not only cause immense suffering, but also present a serious public-health risk. The cramped conditions, poor hygiene, stress, injuries, disease, minimal veterinary care and lack of genetic diversity all mean that fur farms create ideal conditions for viruses to be transmitted and to mutate, creating new strains.

Rare but concerning cases of animal-to-human disease transmission have been documented. Research in the Netherlands using whole genome sequencing revealed that at least 66 people working on mink fur farms became infected with SARS-CoV-2, and the preliminary report of an outbreak of SARS- CoV-2 in mink and mink farmers in Denmark, published in February 2021, researchers concluded that 19% of people identified as being connected to mink farms became infected, with approximately 4,000 human cases estimated to be infected with a mink variant.

Download Photos/Video of Undercover Investigation at a Chinese Fur Farm

Download Photos/Video of Undercover Investigation at a Finnish Fur Farm

Facts: 

  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been documented on 446 mink fur farms in 12 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020, including Canada (three farms), Denmark (290 farms), France (one farm), Greece (25 farms), Italy (two farms), Latvia (one farm), Lithuania (four farms), Netherlands (69 farms), Poland (three farm), Spain (17 farms), Sweden (14 farms) and the United States (17 farms).
  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide, on fur farms and trapped in the wild—that’s equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. France, the Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Spain and Ukraine are also considering bans on fur farming.
  • 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.

Download Photos

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


World’s biggest plant-based celebrities tell COP26 President Alok Sharma “stop ignoring the cow in the room”

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


dhughes9/iStock.com

LONDON—Some of the world’s biggest celebrity advocates for plant-based diets, including Moby, Billie Eilish, Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Cumming, Alicia Silverstone, Leona Lewis, Lily Cole and Stephen Fry, have written to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, president of the COP26 climate change conference to be held in Glasgow this November, to stop ignoring animal agriculture as a catastrophic climate change culprit, and to put it on the COP26 agenda for world leaders to discuss. The letter was sent in support of the recently launched #TheCowInTheRoom campaign, by global animal protection charity Humane Society International.

Globally, more than 88 billion animals are raised and slaughtered for food every year. Intensive animal farming is responsible for an estimated 14.5%—16.5% of human induced greenhouse gas emissions globally, on par with emissions levels of the entire transport sector. Despite being one of the largest contributors to climate change, animal agriculture is not on the COP26 agenda as a priority in climate change mitigation discussions. COP26 is organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Studies show that reducing meat and dairy production and consumption is one of the most effective actions we can take to avoid catastrophic climate change. The letter, which is also signed by Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, singer-songwriter Alesha Dixon, naturalist Chris Packham, entrepreneur and Dragons Den investor Deborah Meaden, actress Evanna Lynch, song writer and record producer Finneas O’Connell, the Vamps’ vocalist and guitarist James McVey, actress Joanna Lumley OBE, comedian and actor Ricky Gervais and compassionate lifestyle influencer Lucy Watson calls on the COP26 conference to formally acknowledge animal agriculture’s climate impact.

Humane Society International and its celebrity advocates share a passion for protecting animals and the planet through practical policies and actions, and they hope that formal recognition at COP26 will encourage world leaders to commit to vital meat and dairy consumption reduction strategies to help meet the Paris Agreement’s below 2°C target.

The letter reads: “With animal agriculture being such a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, it is impossible to meet goals set out in the Paris Agreement without making changes to our global food system. Even if all other major sources of emissions were reformed, we will still fall short… Addressing these urgent areas in the UNFCCC COP26 meeting would help propel governments around the world to take action and would provide world leaders with another high impact option to add to their toolbox for tackling climate change. We call on the UNFCCC to formally and publicly recognise the role of animal agriculture as one of the largest contributors of climate change and to open a greater space for dialogue.”

Singer, songwriter and animal rights activist Moby, said: “Intensively farming animals for food is, simply, destroying our planet. Animal agriculture is the second-highest CO2 emitter in the world, yet it remains largely ignored by world leaders. The science is clear and overwhelming; that adopting a more plant-based diet is one of the most impactful actions we can take to avert catastrophic climate change. So, if we want to protect our planet, we must include intensive animal agriculture in climate change mitigation strategies. COP26 is the ideal opportunity to do this, and one of our last vital changes to reform our global food systems. I beg you, please; STOP ignoring the cow in the room.”

In addition to significant greenhouse gas emissions, the farm animal production sector is also the single largest anthropogenic user of land, with meat, egg, dairy and aquaculture production systems using approximately 83% of the world’s farmland while providing just 37% of the world’s protein and 18% of calories. Animal agriculture is also a major driver of deforestation, species extinction, land degradation, pollution and exhaustion of water resources.

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president for farm animal welfare, says: “If we are serious about avoiding climate catastrophe, it is imperative that world leaders acknowledge and act to cut every major driver of climate change, including industrial animal agriculture. Intensive animal farming is unsustainable, and that transforming our global food systems to more plant-based diets is one of the most effective climate-mitigation measures we can take. COP26 offers a vital opportunity for world leaders to make meaningful commitments to tackle climate change, restore biodiversity and help end the cruelty caused by factory farms.”

Farm Facts:

  • According to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” (FAO)
  • Consuming fewer animal products and eating more plant-based foods, we can help protect the world’s water supply. Producing meat, milk and eggs requires huge amounts of water: growing feed, cleaning housing enclosures, hydrating the animals, disposing their waste or disinfecting slaughtering equipment. Producing 1 kg of chicken requires 4,325 litres of water on average, compared to the 1,644 litres needed to produce 1 kg of cereals. (Hoekstra 2015)
  • Eating more plant-based meals will reduce the amount of land used by agriculture. Worldwide, we need more land to raise and feed farm animals than for any other single purpose. More than 97% of soymeal and more than 60% of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals. (FAO)
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report revealed that the climate crisis is poised to get worse if greenhouse gas emissions continue to surge.
  • By 2030, the livestock sector is projected to account for almost half of the world’s emissions budget for 1.5C unless things change. (Harwatt 2019)

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Media Contact: Leozette Roode: Lroode@hsi.org; +27 713601104

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