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

ENDS

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)

ENDS

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

Fur trade labelled as ‘barbaric,’ ‘cruel,’ ‘utterly illogical,’ ‘outmoded’ and ‘inhumane’

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Theodora Iona /PETA UK CEOs and Directors from five of the UK’s largest animal protection organisations,  Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the RSPCA, gathered with campaigners in geometric fox masks at the gates of No 10 Downing street to submit 1 million #FurFreeBritain petition signatures to the Prime Minister, calling for the UK to ban the sale of cruel animal fur.

LONDON—In Parliament’s first fur debate since leaving the European Union, MPs from across the political spectrum have called on the government to ban the sale and import of real animal fur in Britain. All 18 of the MPs who spoke did so in favour of a ban during yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate, referring to the trade as ‘barbaric’, ‘cruel’, ‘utterly illogical’, ‘outmoded’ and ‘inhumane’. The debate was held after a 1 million signature petition was recently delivered to the Prime Minister by the #FurFreeBritain campaign, led by Humane Society International/UK. HSI/UK thanked MPs for their compassionate contributions and urged the government to “consign fur cruelty to the history books.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, says: “Every MP who spoke at this debate reflected the views of their constituents by supporting a ban on fur imports and sales, and calling for Britain to end its bloody business with the international fur trade. DEFRA Parliamentary Under Secretary Rebecca Pow, and Environment Secretary George Eustice can have been left in no doubt that there is overwhelming political as well as public support for a UK fur ban. If we are a nation of animal lovers, Britain cannot remain complicit in the appalling suffering of millions of fur-bearing animals caged or trapped overseas, all for frivolous fur fashion. We urge Government to consign fur cruelty to the history books by introducing legislation to ban the import and sale of real animal fur as soon as possible.”

Download the Full Debate

Since banning fur farming more than two decades ago in 2000, Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where tormented animals such as foxes and mink suffer for their entire lives in barren battery cages, measuring around one square metre. Coyote, beaver and other animals are also trapped and killed in the wild using cruel traps that are also banned in the UK.

Notable quotes from MPs at the debate include:

  • Conservative MP Christian Wakeford who called for the debate, said: “It’s now time that we end the double-standard of having a ban on fur farming, whilst importing the same cruelty from overseas. The fur industry would appear to me to be an industry that is outmoded and out of touch with modern values and principles of the humane treatment of animals, and I implore my Parliamentary colleagues to join me in condemning it to the history books as we have done for so many other cruel and archaic treatments of animals. Following the call for evidence on the fur trade held by the Government over the summer; given the strong public and Parliamentary support for this measure; and noting the Government’s commitment and ambition to be a world leader on animal welfare standards – I ask the Minister to use her response to today’s debate to reassure me and everyone in this room today that legislative action to end the UK’s involvement in the global fur trade will be imminently forthcoming. It’s not just the popular thing to do; it’s the right thing to do.” 
  • Tracey Crouch MP, from the British Conservative Party, said: “There is huge cross-party support on this issue, reflecting public opinion, and there’s really only one outcome from this which is that we should ban fur sales, full stop.”
  • Dr Lisa Cameron MP for the Scottish National Party said: “It’s not just the humane thing to do, but there’s also a public health interest in making sure this happens.
  • Conservative MP Jason McCartney said: “When we set the standard some twenty years ago by banning fur farming here in the UK, other countries followed our lead, so if we can set the example here, we will not only help animal welfare by what we do as a country, other countries will follow, so let’s take the lead.”
  • British Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said: “There is, in this day and age, absolutely no justification whatsoever for using real fur because there are so many synthetic alternatives that are good and available…  It’s completely anomalous that we should ban fur farming in the United Kingdom and then allow the product to be imported from other countries. It’s got to stop, it can stop now. The Government has a good track record on animal welfare legislation, I urge my friend the right honourable Minister to make sure this is added to that portfolio. Let’s stop it now.”
  • Scottish National Party MP Steve Bonnar said: “Fur farming has been rightly banned in the UK since 2003, yet we continue to import tens of millions of pounds of animal fur each year. If it is too cruel an industry to have on our shores, than how can we justify importing fur that is farmed using the same inhumane methods, which are illegal in the UK? All have managed to do is outsource our animal cruelty overseas.” He added “Dangerous viruses thrive when animals are kept in filthy, crowded conditions. By allowing the sale of fur in Britain, we are inadvertently supporting a reservoir of deadly viruses.”
  • Taiwo Owatemi, Labour MP for Coventry North West, said: “The government has shown some willingness and stated it wants to drive up animal welfare standards in the United Kingdom. Well, banning the fur trade in its entirety, including fur imports, would be a bold step towards reaching these aims. We need actions, not just warm words from the government. In doing so we will have the overwhelming support of the animal loving British public.

Responding on behalf of the government, DEFRA Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Rebecca Pow MP noted that it was clear from the interventions at the debate that there was “great strength of feeling on this topic” and that “animal welfare is an absolute priority of this government”. However, she went on to state that she was “not in a position to introduce any next steps on the fur trade today” but that “we are building a strong evidence base on which to inform any future policy, noting information from a range of sources, including industry associated with the fur trade and notable retailers who have recently gone fur-free…” Pow also cited the “incredible 30,000 responses” the government received to the recent Call for Evidence which she said demonstrated “the strong feeling in this area.”

To date the #FurFreeBritain campaign has enjoyed much cross-party political support. Last year Tracey Crouch MP tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM267) which received the support of 140 MPs and current Early Day Motion (EDM193), tabled in June 2021, already has 103 signatures.

This month, more than 100 MPs and Peers from various parties wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon George Eustice MP, calling on the UK Government to ban the import and sale of animal fur.

There is also significant public support for ending the double standard of UK fur imports and sales. DEFRA’s recent Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade received over 30,000 responses, and more than 1 million petition signatures have been delivered to the Prime Minister in support of #FurFreeBritain. Public opinion polls consistently show widespread backing for a UK fur sales ban; a Yonder opinion poll published in May 2021 found that 72% of Brits support a ban on the import and sale of all animal fur, replicating exactly the same majority support demonstrated by a YouGov opinion poll in 2020 which also revealed Brits’ scathing view of fur as ‘unethical,’ ‘outdated, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch.’

Earlier this year Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur, and in the United States the city of Ann Arbor in Michigan joined Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood in California, and the towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts, in also banning fur sales. California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019.

Fur Facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote—that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
  • 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 C02emissions 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.
  • 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, Neiman Marcus, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, major online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have adopted fur-free policies.
  • Fur farming is not only cruel to animals, it also presents risks to public health. A June letter signed by over 60 veterinarians and virologists highlighted outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 on hundreds of mink fur farms across a dozen countries, and the potential for such farms to act as reservoirs for the virus. It also notes the potential for fur farms to create future zoonotic diseases, stating: “The intensive breeding conditions typical on fur farms—animals unnaturally crowded together, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and low genetic diversity—are ideal for the creation and spread of novel pathogens.” Signatories to the letter support “a permanent global end to the breeding, keeping and killing of animals for the purposes of fur production, and the sale of fur.”

Download Photos/Video from the #FurFreeBritain Campaign

Download Photos/Video from the HSI Chinese Fur Farm Investigation

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode: Lroode@hsi.org; + 27 71 360 1104

Defra urged to release results of over 30,000 responses to its Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


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

LONDON—A group of more than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon George Eustice MP calling on the UK Government to cut Britain’s ties with the cruel fur industry by banning the import and sale of animal fur. Humane Society International/UK, which leads the Fur Free Britain campaign and co-ordinated the letter, is also calling on Defra to publish its analysis of the 30,000 responses submitted to its Call For Evidence on the fur trade earlier this year.

Fur farming was banned across the UK more than two decades ago in 2000, with Britain’s last remaining fur farm closing its doors in 2003. But, since then, Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where tormented animals such as foxes and mink suffer for their entire lives in barren battery cages, measuring around one square metre. Continuing to allow the import and sale of fur deemed too cruel to produce on our own shores is an unacceptable double standard, say the Parliamentarians and HSI/UK.

The letter reads: “We strongly believe the fur trade is a cruel and outdated practice, which has no place in the UK.

The Government has previously said that a sales ban would be incompatible with our membership of the European Union and, as such, no action could be taken at that time. The UK has now left the EU, and the Government has an opportunity – following the call for evidence on the fur trade held earlier this year – to act as a global leader in moral standards and extend existing fur trade bans (for cat, dog and seal fur) to all animals, thus eliminating illogical protections for some species above others.

With the vast majority of UK high street stores now fur-free, a ban would have limited impact on businesses, and a proper and reasonable phase-out period would ensure that the few businesses still centred on fur could transition to alternative materials.”

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.”

In their letter to the Secretary of State, MPs and Peers are now urging the Government to make good on that pledge.

Conservative MP Christian Wakeford who championed the letter, said: “The UK has entered a new chapter in its trading relationship with the rest of the world: banning fur sales will send a strong message that we intend to use this new beginning to set ourselves apart as world leaders in animal welfare. We were trailblazers in banning fur farming almost 20 years ago, and now Brexit has given us the opportunity to set a global example on animal welfare again. There has never been a better time to end our association with this cruel, outdated and unnecessary practice and I hope the strength of cross-party feeling on this issue encourages the Government to introduce a ban at the earliest opportunity.” 

SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron said: “The UK’s current position on fur is entirely out of step with UK public opinion. Recent polling shows that 72% of the British public support a fur sales ban, and an estimated 83% have never worn fur – this is reflected by our high streets, where almost all stores are ‘fur free.’ Government should take heed of public sentiment, reflected and reinforced by the support of over one hundred Parliamentarians for this cross-party letter, and pursue a fur sales ban without delay.”

Labour MP Maria Eagle said: “The coronavirus pandemic should force governments the world over to reconsider the way we farm, keep, and interact with animals. Exploiting fur-bearing wild species in unsanitary, overcrowded and inhumane factory farms is not only cruel, but also imposes potentially devastating public health risks. Our cross-party letter to the Environment Secretary follows the recent call by over 60 vets and virologists, encouraging governments globally to end fur farming to prevent further disease outbreaks. Following the recent call for evidence on the fur trade in the UK, Ministers must act now to ban fur sales in this country.”

More than one million petition signatures have been gathered in support of #FurFreeBritain, and public opinion polls consistently show that a UK fur sales ban would also enjoy widespread public backing. A Yonder opinion poll published in May 2021 found that 72% of the British public support a ban on the import and sale of all animal fur, replicating exactly the majority support demonstrated by a YouGov opinion poll a year earlier which also revealed Brits’ scathing view of fur as ‘unethical,’ ‘outdated,, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch.’

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Furs from around two million tormented animals are imported into the UK each year and there is huge public and political support for Britain to stop this trade in cruelty. This letter shows clear cross-party political appetite for the Government to bring forward legislation to ban fur imports and sales.

We are also urging the Government to publish its analysis of the 30,000 responses received from members of the public and industry to its recent Call for Evidence. If opinion polls are anything to go by, we believe that the vast majority of those responses will be supportive of a ban and will want to see Britain show global leadership towards an end to this cruel, outmoded and unnecessary industry. For as long as fur is traded in Britain, we remain shamefully complicit in the suffering and death of millions of fur bearing animals for frivolous fashion.”

Earlier this year Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur, and in the United States the city of Ann Arbor in Michigan joined Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood in California, and the towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts, in also banning fur sales. California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019.

Fur Facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
  • 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.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone Canada Goose, Oscar de la Rente, Valentino, Macy’s and Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, major online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have adopted fur-free policies.
  • Fur farming is not only cruel to animals, it also presents risks to public health. A June letter signed by over 60 veterinarians and virologists highlighted outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 on hundreds of mink fur farms across a dozen countries, and the potential for such farms to act as reservoirs for the virus. It also notes the potential for fur farms to create future zoonotic diseases, stating: “The intensive breeding conditions typical on fur farms – animals unnaturally crowded together, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and low genetic diversity – are ideal for the creation and spread of novel pathogens.” Signatories to the letter support “a permanent global end to the breeding, keeping and killing of animals for the purposes of fur production, and the sale of fur.”

Download Photos/Video from the #FurFreeBritian Campaign

Download Photos/Video from the Chinese Fur Farm Investigation

Download Photos/Video from the Finnish Fur Farm Investigation

ENDS

Media Contact: Leozette Roode: Lroode@hsi.org; + 27 71 360 1104

Climate change conference can no longer ignore climate impacts of industrialised animal agriculture

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


dhughes9/iStock.com Cattle awaiting slaughter in a feedlot.

LONDON—More than 50 animal protection, environmental and food justice organisations from around the globe have written to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, president of the COP26 climate change conference organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), calling on the UNFCCC to publicly recognise the catastrophic impact animal agriculture has on the planet at this year’s conference.

In the animal agriculture industry, more than 88 billion animals are raised and slaughtered for food every year. This industry 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 animal agriculture being one of the largest contributors to climate change, it is largely neglected by countries around the world in climate change mitigation strategies and commitments.

The letter, signed by Humane Society International, World Animal Protection, Brighter Green Compassion in World Farming, 50by40, Animal Equality, FOUR PAWS International, ProVeg International, RSPCA, The Humane League and others calls on the COP26 conference, taking place in Glasgow in November, to formally acknowledge animal agriculture’s climate impact. The groups hope that formal recognition at COP26 will encourage world leaders to commit to meat and dairy consumption reduction strategies to meet the Paris Agreement’s below 2°C target.

The letter reads: “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. Working with farmers to support and catalyse a shift towards more plant-centric food production and consumption is a proactive step that must be taken to future-proof global food and agricultural industries… 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.”

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, exhaustion of water resources and pollution.

Reducing meat and dairy production and consumption is one of the most effective actions we can take to avoid catastrophic climate change. 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.

The UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report revealed 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. The report is a stark warning that if we want to win the ‘Race to Zero’, it’s imperative that we tackle every major driver of climate change, including intensive animal agriculture, collaboratively across all countries.

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president for farm animal welfare, says: “When it comes to the impacts of animal agriculture on climate change, we cannot continue to kick the can down the road.  While many governments and constituencies have recognized and taken action to address the impacts of the energy and transport sector, governments have yet to adopt policies to reduce the impact of large-scale, intensive animal agriculture on the environment. If we are serious about avoiding climate catastrophe, world leaders must acknowledge the science and implement strategies to change our global food system to one that significantly reduces industrial animal agriculture. Reducing the number of animals raised and slaughtered is a legitimate and essential component of tackling climate change, restoring biodiversity and ending the cruelty caused by factory farms. Ignoring the immense climate impact of industrial animal farming is no longer an option, and the COP26 climate change conference offers a vital opportunity for world leaders to take action.”

Cities and countries are beginning to acknowledge and make an effort to reduce meat consumption as a climate change mitigation strategy. Earlier this year, France announced that its climate and resilience bill encourages a more plant-based diet to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The bill includes that by 2023, all school cafeterias will have to feature one compulsory vegetarian menu once a week, and that at least one daily vegetarian option should be offered in all state-run canteens. Shortly after, the City Council of Berkeley in the United States also passed a resolution to divert half of the city’s spending money from animal-based foods to plant-based foods by 2024. Further, the Council will also look to adopt a long-term goal of replacing 100% of animal products with plant-based products to combat climate change.

The open NGO-led letter is signed by:

  • 50by40
  • A Well-Fed World
  • AbibiNsroma Foundation
  • Albert Schweitzer Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt
  • Alianima
  • Animal Equality
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Animals Aotearoa
  • Aquatic Life Institute
  • Bank Information Center
  • Brighter Green
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Coalition for Sustainable Food Practices
  • Compassion in World Farming
  • Creature Kind
  • Default Veg
  • Djurens Rätt
  • Earthjustice
  • Eat for the Earth
  • Eurogroup for Animals
  • EuroVeg
  • Factory Farming Awareness Coalition
  • Farm Forward
  • Farm Sanctuary
  • Feedback
  • Fish Welfare Initiative
  • Foundation for Advice and Action in the Defence of Animals (FAADA)
  • FOUR PAWS International
  • Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy
  • Green REV Institute
  • Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program
  • Humane Society International
  • Humane Society of the United States
  • Jem pre Zem
  • LAV
  • Nourish Scotland
  • One Kind
  • Phoenix Zones Initiatives
  • Plant Based Health Professionals UK
  • ProVeg International
  • RSPCA
  • Science and Environmental Health Network
  • Sinergia Animal
  • Song Thuan Chay
  • The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries
  • The Humane League
  • The Humane League UK
  • The Raven Corps
  • True Animal Protein Price Coalition
  • True Health Initiative
  • Vegan Society
  • Veganuary
  • VegeProject Japan (VPJ)

ENDS

Media Contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK: +27 (0)713601104; LRoode@hsi.org

The death of Mopane is reminiscent of Cecil’s demise

Humane Society International / Africa


Chris Upton/Alamy Stock Photo Lion in the wild.

LONDON—A majestic lion named Mopane was killed allegedly by an American hunter outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe last week. Mopane’s death has sparked international outcry with details surrounding his killing similar to those of Cecil the lion, slaughtered in 2015 in the same area. With his impressive mane, Mopane was well-known to local tour guides and international tourists visiting the area to catch a glimpse of him.

Just like 13-year-old Cecil who was lured with an elephant carcass as bait, it was reported that the approximately 12-year-old Mopane was possibly lured out of the Hwange National Park with bait and killed in in the same place that Cecil was killed on land adjacent to the Park. Like Cecil who headed up a lion pride, Mopane was known to have formed a coalition with another male lion named Sidhule, and the two males formed a pride with two adult females and six sub-adults of about 16 to 18 months old. Locals were concerned that Sidhule and Mopane would be targeted by trophy hunters and started a petition to protect them. Unfortunately, Sidhule fell victim to a trophy hunter and was killed two years ago this month in 2019.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Mopane was a father and played a significant role in his pride. Without him, his pride is now vulnerable to takeover by another male or group of males, which may lead to the killing of the cubs and females in his pride. Yet, as with Cecil six years ago, the perverse pleasure some people derive from killing iconic animals brought this noble lion’s life to a tragic end. Another trophy hunter spending tens of thousands of dollars on a globe-trotting thrill-to-kill escapade shows humanity at its worst. It is shameful that the U.S. has the distinction of being the world’s biggest importer of hunting trophies. Enough is enough.” 

The African lion is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, trophy hunters continue to be authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to import trophy-hunted lions and other species threatened with extinction under a permitting scheme that HSUS and HSI have challenged as violating federal law. The Humane Society Legislative Fund is currently working with the Administration and Congress to address this dangerous and broken import permit system.

Neither Cecil’s nor Mopane’s killings are anomalies. Between 2009 and 2018, 7,667 lion trophies were traded internationally, including into the U.S. and the European Union. In addition to advocating to eliminate the import of lion trophies into the U.S., HSI is working in South Africa to prohibit the export of lion trophies and in the U.K. and European Union to prohibit the import of imperiled species trophies.

Arthur Thomas, Humane Society International/UK’s public affairs manager, said: “The tragic news that another magnificent male lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has been baited and killed by a trophy hunter, brings back heart-wrenching memories of the day six years ago that Cecil the lion died a similar fate at the hands of a hunter. It’s a sobering reminder, if one were needed, that we must end trophy hunting and afford our precious wild animals the protection they desperately need. This lion’s death comes as the UK government is yet to make good on its pledge to ban UK trophy imports and exports. Our plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to demonstrate global leadership on this issue and bring forward a comprehensive and rigorously-enforced ban on all hunting trophies now, and help stop this barbaric practice.”

Additional information:

  • An estimated 20,000 mature lions remain in the wild in Africa.
  • Lions are infanticidal species. Infanticide occurs when adult males take over a new territory and kills the dependent cubs in order to increase mating opportunities with resident females that have dependent offspring.
  • Human-induced removal of lions, such as trophy hunting, disrupts social group and results in infanticide. More information on African lions can be found
  • While the U.S. is the largest importer of hunting trophies, the EU has surpassed the U.S. as the largest importer of lion trophies between 2016 and 2018 according to a new report by HSI/Europe.

ENDS

Media Contacts: 

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Stand Up for Animals

HSI’s hugely popular #StandUpForAnimals comedy night is back again!

Come and join us for an evening of laughter at London’s Comedy Store on Monday, 22 November 2021 at 8 p.m.

A fantastic line-up of comedians will be waiting to entertain you, all for a great cause! Our cruelty free raffle will also have some amazing animal friendly prizes, and a vegan menu will be available at The Store kitchen. This event sells out fast every year, so make sure you book your tickets today!

Below are our first confirmed acts, and we’ll be adding more great names to the bill in due course:

Carl Donnelly: “Observational genius.” – The Guardian
Tom Ward: “Staggeringly impressive.” – The Herald
Kerry Godliman: “Great comic who oozes personality.” – Evening Standard
Jamie D’Souza: “A highly effective way of delivering gag after wry gag… Slick, joke-focussed comedy.” – Chortle.
Michael Legge: “Without doubt, one of the best comperes and improvisers on the circuit.” – Time Out
Ben Norris: “A master of the craft, this will be an hour of the most polished stand-up you are likely to see.” – GQ Magazine

All proceeds help fund HSI’s animal protection campaigns and projects on the ground in the UK and around the world, including our efforts to end Asia’s cruel dog meat trade, trophy hunting of wild animals such as elephants and lions, the killing of animals for their fur, and our rescue of animals in natural disasters like Australia’s wildfires.

Tickets: £18 per person
Date/Time: Monday, 22 November 2021 at 8 p.m.
Location: London’s Comedy Store

Book NOW

Please support HSI/UK by buying tickets and sharing this event with your laughter-loving, animal-friendly friends!

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


The UK Government must legislate to ‘End the Cage Age’ for all farmed animals.

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

ENDS

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.

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