UK fur trade must be curbed, says Parliamentary Committee following HSI’s #FurFreeBritain campaign

EFRA Committee calls for Government action to tackle cruel fur sales

Humane Society International

  • Jo-Anne McArthur

An Inquiry by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, launched in response to investigations by Humane Society International/UK and media partners, published its report today calling on Government to hold a public consultation to consider whether to ban the import and sale of animal fur in the UK, post-Brexit. The report, welcomed by HSI/UK which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign, also calls on the Government to introduce a new mandatory fur and animal product labelling regime to enable consumers to make informed buying choices.

In response to the Committee’s question “Should the UK ban fur?” HSI/UK presented detailed evidence of the inherent cruelty of fur farming and trapping, as well as the “moral inconsistency” between the UK’s ban on fur farming and the importation of fur, described by the charity as “outsourcing cruelty”. Despite UK-wide bans of fur farming on ethical grounds since 2003, and EU bans on the sale of cat and dog fur (2007) and seal fur (2010), the UK still allows the import and sale of fur from a range of other species such as fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, racoon dog and chinchilla. The vast majority of these animals are factory-farmed in battery cage systems in countries such as China, Poland and Finland. According to the most recent trade statistics from HM Revenue & Customs, in the last year* the UK imported almost £75 million of animal fur (£74,154,873). It’s a double standard that HSI/UK hopes to see outlawed.

Take Action: Call for a #FurFreeBritain.

HSI/UK Executive Director Claire Bass said, “The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming, after the British public, politicians and veterinary experts concluded that it is an inhumane and completely unnecessary industry. So it is total double standard for us to still be importing and selling fur from animals still suffering the same conditions we banned here. The UK Government has the opportunity to blaze a trail as the first country to ban the sale of all animal fur, so we are delighted that EFRA Committee members are pressing government to launch a public consultation to help inform and build that case. Our #FurFreeBritain campaign already has the support of the British public, veterinary experts, as well as an ever-growing list of retailers and designers who see that the future of fashion is fur-free. With innovation in textiles offering high quality humane alternatives to real fur, the fur trade’s days are clearly numbered, but it can’t end quickly enough for the hundreds of millions of animals trapped and tormented in tiny cages. A UK ban would be a major nail in the coffin of this morally bankrupt industry.”

The EFRA report is extremely critical of the mis-sale of animal fur as fake fur, a scandal exposed by HSI UK, and urges decisive action from retailers and Trading Standards to ensure that consumers are not sold “fake faux fur”. Evidence presented to the Committee by HSI/UK underlined deficiencies in the current labelling laws, including that there is no legal requirement to use the specific word “fur” on items containing real fur. Evidence submitted by HSI/UK showed the Committee numerous examples of real fur being sold as fake fur on the UK high street and online, commonly containing labels such as “100% acrylic”. The Committee acknowledged the extent of the problem, stating that “the current labelling system is confusing, not-fit-for purpose, and with a high degree of non-compliance. It is also not being enforced.” The report recommends that a new labelling law should ensure that items containing fur should list the species, country of origin and method of production.

HSI’s campaign for a fur import ban was also discussed in Parliament on June 4th in a Westminster Hall debate at which 32 MPs from across the political spectrum passionately spoke out in favour of banning fur imports from the United Kingdom, calling the fur trade “vile”, “loathsome” and the “grimmest of human activities”. Some of the fur ban’s most vocal political advocates include Kerry McCarthy, Sir Roger Gale, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Tim Loughton, Daniel Zeichner, Caroline Lucas, Maria Eagle and Zac Goldsmith.

The campaign has also garnered strong celebrity support; 31 of the country’s biggest celebrities – including Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais, Alesha Dixon, Paloma Faith and Evanna Lynch, sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a fur import ban. The full letter and list of signatories can be read here.

And last month, Environment Secretary Michael Gove received a letter from 50 veterinarians and animal experts speaking out against cruel fur farming. The full letter and list of signees can be read here. Take action and donate to help.

Fur facts:

  • More than 130 million animals suffer each year in the global fur trade, the majority reared in terrible conditions on fur factory farms. This number does not include rabbits, whose numbers (in the hundreds of millions) are not reported by the fur trade.
  • There is no legal requirement to use the specific word “fur” on items containing real fur. EU regulations require items defined as “textile products” that contain animal fur to carry the confusing wording “contains non-textile parts of animal origin” however this does not clearly tell consumers that it means “real animal fur,” and in practice this wording requirement is rarely adhered to at all, as evidenced in our report, “Mislabelled and misleading”. Products sold online are exempt even from the above confusing wording requirement, and footwear or non-garment accessories such as handbags and keychains are also excluded.
  • Around the world in countries such as the U.S., France, Poland and China, wild species are kept in small, barren battery cages for their entire lives before being killed by gassing or electrocution.
  • Wild animals such as coyotes fair no better – they can languish in agony in cruel traps for hours or even days before dying from dehydration, starvation or attacks by predators, or being shot or crushed to death when the trapper returns.
  • A 2018 YouGov poll commissioned by HSI UK shows that more than two-thirds of the British public support a UK fur import ban, with only 8 percent opposed to the idea.
  • In recent times there has been a fast-growing list of designers who have stopped using fur – Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and Jimmy Choo – who join those with long-standing fur bans, such as Hugo Boss, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Vivienne Westwood.

* (April 2017 – March 2018 inclusive)

Media Contact: Harriet Barclay

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